He stopped on his morning walk along th sea front, to watch the children playing on the beach, splashing amongst the waves, leaping in and out. The air filled with cries of laughter. His gaze swept along the beach taking in the family's enjoying the summer sunshine, some building sand castle's or playing ball, others just lapping up the suns rays.

A ball came rolling towards him, and a "hey mister, get our ball please" came from a small group of boys playing soccer on the beach. He knew what he wanted to do; he had done it so many, many times before. Just flick the ball up with his toe , onto his knee, then volley it back to the waiting boys. His mind told his body what to do, but it no longer answered as it used to do. His attempt to flick the ball was slow, and he found himself scurrying around to pick the ball up and throw it back, rather than kick it. He was like a girl, he thought. No, not a girl, an old man. After all, he said to himself with a sigh, that's what he was, an old man.

He moved to a bench and sat down. As if mocking him, the wind picked up the meager strands of hair he still had left on his head.

He watched the sun sparkling on the shimmering sea, and the soft gentle breeze sent his mind back, not that many years ago at all, really, but it seemed a life time.

Having finished his working days and taken an early retirement, he moved to the coast. His life had been one of enjoyment, and now he needed rest. Throughout his years he had known every emotion going from the happiness of love, to the pain of divorce. But now he had thought he needed a place to see out his last lonely years. Last--well, at fifty, it was not quite his last--but lonely, they certainly were.

He had found a small cottage with enough of a garden to keep him busy, a pub near enough to pass the odd evening, and views and walks to keep the body and mind in active.

It was on one of these walks where he had first met her. Just as he had rounded a headland, there she was, just sitting there gazing out to sea, the sun behind her, surrounding her like a golden halo. It was a vision that would always stay with him for the rest of his life.

It was the start of so many day and months of happiness, something he thought would never happen again to him. After all, he was old. They were old. Well, her not as much as he. But is seemed she never saw that. She never once mentioned the years between them. And when once he had brought up about his age, she sealed his lips with a kiss and said "It's never too late to fall in love." the lines of an old song that even now echoed through his thoughts.

She soon moved into his little cottage, and their world was one of roses, sunny days and happiness.

A chill ran through him, like the first sign of the coming of winter on an autumn day.

The one night she told him she had been to the doctors, and what the doctor had found. He remembered last few months of their lives together, and the bitter taste left by her death, a taste that poisoned his body and broke his heart.

Still photographs flashed across his mind's eye, her smile, her serenity, and that first time he saw her, lit by the sun. Then the last time he saw her as he held her hand, and the last breaths of her life left her, and he could swear she was at that moment once more surrounded by that same golden glow.

A ball brushing against his legs, woke him from his days dreams. This time he thought, and he kicked the ball, straight back to the children who waved and said thanks, as he smiled and looked down at her last gift to him.

There in the pram he always pushed along the sea front on his daily walk, was their sleeping child. He smiled, and words she had said that one time came back to him.


It had not been to late for their love, nor for them to have their own daughter that smiled with her smile, and kept her love alive forever in his mind and his heart.

Barry Eva 2002