• She watched the water that lapped at her feet, each wave taking sand with it. She had been creating a divot in the shore for years now and the waters that carried all her hope didn’t disturb her enough to make her leave her place. What was a little water, anyways? She waved, her arm moving in long strokes over her head, her shoulder burning from the hours without end of waving, waving, waving. She had been waiting for him to return from his voyage for years now, but what was one more day? He had said his trip would take a long time anyways and she was a patient person; he was worth it. So she kept waving, her arm moving in long strokes over her head and her shoulder burning with effort, and she didn’t complain. She had a hopeful smile on her face and each wave that kissed her feet promised her the return of her love. Her waving would guide him home.
    She didn’t notice the wrinkles that started to map out her face or the way her joints began aching from age and overuse; she paid these small attentions that time gave her no heed; she was busy bringing her love home.
    At night, when her waving was smothered by the night, she sat at her window. There was a burning candle next to her; it balanced on the sill in a dish of wax drips left by the melting of candles before it. She had lost count of how many candles she had burned to the base; they were guiding him home when her waving was not and she blessed each candle with a kiss before lighting it, a kiss she wished would be sent to him on the smoke that drifted out of the wick. She watched the dark waves until her eyes ached and she kept watching until the sun rose. She cried a few times, despair and longing nearly crushing her when the rain sheeted down and the waves crashed against the shore with an unmatchable fury.
    Her place on the shore was never vacant during the day and at night a candle could always be seen in her window; the small, flickering flame giving her ghost-like face color that had been steadily draining out of it as the years passed. Her neighbors tried to console her, tried to convince her that he wasn’t coming back, that the ruins of the ship that had crashed against the shore of a nearby town were the only sign of the ship that any of them had seen in twelve years, but she kept waving, waving, waving, her arm moving in long strokes over her head and her shoulder burning with effort. It was always the same arm, the one that held the hand with a ring aged by time and polished by the tender kisses she had placed upon it over the years.
    She lost track of time, to her it was as if she had only kissed him good-bye yesterday and it wouldn’t be long before he returned, he always returned. So what if the ship had wrecked? Her love always came home, always. She had no doubt that they would be together again and, despite the graying of her hair and the wrinkly leather of her skin, when he stepped down off of the boat that had managed to rescue him from peril he would gather her up in her arms and kiss her tenderly and she would be no older than she had been the day he had left.
    Each night when the candle flickered and the waves crashed against the shore in a promising rhythm, she bowed her head and clasped her hands in front of her. A small prayer was all he needed, one that would ensure his return, and she said it each night without fail. God, protect him. Please.