Ryan took note of the rising wind and the gathering clouds that signaled a new storm’s imminent approach. He picked up his pace. He wanted to take full advantage of the break in the weather and the fact that his leg was momentarily numb to work off the excess energy that still surged through his body in the aftermath of his treatment. And to work off some of the dog’s excess energy, as well.
A fitful, wet wind played havoc with the dog’s coat as Ryan tramped along behind her. She was clearly enjoying herself and seemed intent on exploring every inch of the winding path that edged the marina.
The air was brisk and invigorating. Ryan took several deep, grateful breaths. He was feeling better and more optimistic about his recovery than he had in several days. Who’d have guessed that anything as weird as acupuncture would be the only thing that offered even temporary relief? But at this point, he was willing to give almost anything a shot.
At the other end of the leash, the dog left off nosing at a couple of crabs that had been cast up on the rocks to growl menacingly at something on the beach below them. Ryan followed the direction of the dog’s gaze and was surprised to see a woman walking slowly through the shallow surf. Her head was downcast, and her eyes scanned the ground around her as though she were searching for something she’d lost along the shoreline. font>
She was carrying a five-gallon plastic bucket in each hand. As he watched, she stopped, put the pails down, and then bent to fumble with something at the edge of the waves. Water surged around her. What the hell was she doing down there? Ryan’s guts tightened with apprehension. The damn woman was likely to get herself drowned if she wasn’t careful.
"Hey!" he called to her, but she appeared not to hear him. She hauled a dripping object out of the water and dropped it carefully into one of the buckets. He called again, but she still took no notice of him, just went back to feeling around for something below the surface of the water. font>
Beside him, his dog set up a weird high-pitched howling, and that the woman did seem to hear. She straightened suddenly. To Ryan’s surprise, she turned to look not back towards the shore, but out to sea. He shook his head in annoyance. What in God’s name did she think she was going to find out there?
He watched as she scanned the horizon. She took a single step forward, and then another--as if she were searching for the source of the sound in the depths of the ocean. The wind whipped long strands of red hair across her face and she pushed at them with an impatient hand. Watching her, Ryan grew more and more uneasy. There was no way in hell he wanted to go down there, but he wasn’t a cop for nothing. And he couldn’t just walk away and leave her where she clearly had no business being.
She continued to stare into the distance, so heedless of the rising swells that broke around her that she was nearly knocked her off her feet by an especially large wave. That decided the matter for him. Cursing under his breath, he made his way down the rocky slope and splashed toward her.
©PG Forte 2005
Sound of a Voice That Is Still
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