20. November 2014 · Comments Off on THE BEACH MYSTERY · Categories: ---

THE BEACH MYSTERY

Sixteen-year-old Jackie Victor stood beside the archway in the only home she’d ever known, and distantly observed as her mother’s friends and co-workers streamed past her.  They said things like, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and “She’s gone to a better place,” and other inane platitudes she’d heard people say at funerals.  All she knew was that her mother was gone, and she would have to leave Malibu for the utterly uncool town in Ohio where her father now lived with his second family.

She had to leave Malibu.  Leave her beach and her wonderful life, the only life she’d known since her father left them when she was nine.

“I can’t go before I solve the mystery,” she told herself, “and I have to say goodbye to the beach.”

When she asked her father to take her to the beach, he refused.  With no car and no money of her own, she had no idea how to get there.  Ten miles was just too far to walk.  But the mystery was not going to solve itself.  And she simply could not leave without seeing the ocean and the beach just once more.

After all the mourners had left, Jackie’s dad turned to her and said, “Now go and pack your things; we’ll leave in two hours.  And put on a dress and heels; those overalls look terrible.  I was ashamed for all your mother’s friends to see you, a 16-year-old girl dressed like a tomboy.”

“But I can’t!” she exclaimed. “I don’t even have a dress or heels.  And I have to say goodbye to the beach, and solve the mystery.”

“For heaven’s sake, what mystery would you have to solve?” he asked impatiently.

“The mystery of the posters.  It would only take a few minutes . . . please?”

“I said no!”  He turned away as his cell phone rang.  “Hi, honey.  No, we’re just getting ready to leave.  We should be there in about 18 hours.”

Jackie backed out of the room.  How could she do what had to be done?  Maybe she could run away and hitchhike to the beach.  If she ran away, her dad would have to go without her – he’d just told his new wife he’d be home in 18 hours, so he probably wouldn’t wait until she came back.  And he wouldn’t know where she’d gone.  Then she could stay here, and live in the house alone.

Ignoring her dad’s command to change and pack, Jackie sneaked out the back door and raced to the highway.  It wasn’t long before a car full of teenage girls stopped for her.

“Thanks so much!” she exclaimed, climbing into the back.  “Can you just drive me to the beach?  It’s only ten miles to Park Road, and then left to the shoreline.”

The four girls in the car agreed and passed her a bottle of something, which she refused.  The driver, whom she knew as Pat, said, “Oh, hey!  I remember you.  You’re the nerd who always wears those overalls.  Why doesn’t your mom drive you to the beach?”

“My mom is dead,” Jackie said flatly.

“Oh, kid, I’m sorry,” Pat said; the other girls were silent as they located the road to the beach.

Jackie stopped them before the turn.  “I can walk from here,” she said.  “Thanks a lot.  See ya!”

Waving to them, she cautiously crossed to the short beach road and was at the shoreline in five minutes.  She stood on the beach and gazed off to her left, and then to her right, and found that instead of saying goodbye, she was angry with her father.  She absolutely did not want to move to Ohio, where the closest ocean was five hundred miles away.

The mystery had intrigued her from the first time she’d seen the posters.  Pinned up in many different places at the beach on different days, they said things like Solve the mystery! What’s the mystery? Who knows the answer? and What’s the solution?

As she waded along the shore through softly breaking waves, she came to a new poster.  It was a large one, and it read, See Your Audi Dealer –- Call 1-800-MYSTERY!  So that was it – nothing but an ad for a car.  Disappointing.

“But, mystery solved.”  Jackie shrugged.  As she continued to walk in the sand and think, she soon realized that she simply could not live alone in her mother’s house.  She didn’t have a job and had no idea how to pay the bills her mom used to stress over.  Sighing, she shook her head.  She would have to “bite the bullet,” as her mom often said, and go with her dad.  Maybe it would be okay, she thought.

She stopped and gazed for a long moment toward the horizon and the setting sun, then muttered, “I guess this really is goodbye.”

She turned finally and began walking back toward the highway.  Pretty soon a car carrying an elderly couple stopped for her.

“What are you doing out here alone, child?” the woman asked, concern in her voice.

“I’m just going home to find a dress and heels so I can move to Ohio with my dad.”

 

About the author: Harriet Darling

A 75-year-old retired Executive Assistant and Research Editor, I live in Lodi, California, and transport foster kids to family visits and court appearances. I have a son, who is married to Cathy, and they live in Sacramento with Sheldon, their cat, and Penny, their dog. No children, so no grandchildren for me.

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