For The Love Of Sea Shells

thASESNNXJAs a youth Leo called his home “The Rock” as in San Quinton. His father, a lighthouse keeper on a small island off the coast. Except for a few summer residence there was isolation. It was just his father, mother, and him.
He was either at his mother’s side or father’s. Difficult for them to have intimate moments so they sent young Leo hunting for seashells. By the time he left the island many piles of seashells dotted the pathway from the beach to the lighthouse.
As much as he disdained his youth and living there, over the years he began to romanticize about the place.
Leo,” Abe said. “I see you scheduled vacation for next week. Where ya goin’?”
My childhood home,” Leo said. “A little island off the coast. I think its abandoned now.”
Island!” Abe said. “Like Coney Island or Long Island?”
No,” Leo smiled. “A real live island, surrounded by water.”
I don’t think you ever told me about it,” Abe said. “What’s it look like?”
My home was a cozy cottage on an island manicured by nature as perfect as any landscaper could only imagine or accomplish. The cottage sat nestled white, pristine, and full of charm and life. Waves gently lapped the beaches on the south side of the island as waves crashed the north side. Day after day is spent in undisturbed beauty observing nature and the sea in all its splendor. Everyday is unlike the other, full of enchantment, wonder, and solemnity. A place to renew your purpose and explore new vistas.”
I was raised in Queens,” Abe said. “I can’t top that you explored beyond your neighborhood, you got worked over.”
The next week Leo motored in a rented boat two hours to the island, now abandoned. The lighthouse now automated and had been that way for decades.
He ran the boat up near the beach, cut the engine, and tossed the anchor. Overgrowth consumed the island. The entrance to the pathway leading to the house and lighthouse had grown shut. He climbed a rock to spy his old home and the lighthouse.
Growth surrounded the house. A portion of the roof caved. The porch’s pillars all buckled and split. It was weather-beaten beyond recognition like a bruised, battered, and bleeding boxer sitting defeated in his corner.
He struggled his way through the high brush and weeds to the house and poked around awhile, recalled some fond memories, and found what remained of the pathway back to the beach. Walking along the path resurrected and invigorated long lost memories.
He was satisfied as he approached the end of the pathway. He could now put everything to rest and come to grips with the fantasy he lived regarding this place. It truly was a rock, yet he did not want to allow himself to be bitter.
As a final gesture and note of finality to the island, that he resolved would be his last visit, he must have honest and good words to leave it with.
He turned to gaze upon the house. “Rustic,” he said. “That’s the best I can do.“

His eyes followed the pathway from the house to his feet. He walked a few steps back the pathway. He parted the tall grass and smiled. A pile of sea shells. He walked further and uncovered three more. He breathed deeply thinking about his parents. “Rustic and a place for lovers.”