She knew it was dangerous to be on the beach at night. How many times had the notice appeared in the local papers, warning the townsfolk to stay in their homes and away from the water. Dangerous times, they said. Potential threat of invasion, they said. Sarah didn’t care. Something out there called to her--was calling to her--and she knew it had nothing to do with hidden German submarines.
Of course, she wasn’t supposed to know about the submarines. No one was. The government, the press, they all seemed to think that if they didn’t talk about it, no one else would either. But it was impossible to hide what the people could see happening in their own waters. Unless no one knows you’re there to begin with, Sarah thought with a smile. She tugged her coat around her a little tighter and gazed out over the water, listening… waiting...
Behind her, the lights of the town were already out for the night; inside quiet homes, families would eat their evening meals with covered windows, hiding a solitary candle or flashlight. That was old Bartlett’s idea, a trick he had picked up while fighting overseas in the last war.
“If they can’t see us, then they can’t send no bombs our way,” he had practically shouted at the last town council meeting. “We’re sitting ducks out here, sure e’nuff. Yeh all saw the way that boat sank outside the bay. Just idlin’ along, and then... pow!” He had clapped his hands together with a bang. “The whole thing gone in a blink. You wanna go the same way?” He’d turned his beady eyes on everyone in the room, then sat down with an air of finality about him. Perhaps he’d known they would listen to him in the end.
Still, even old Bartlett didn’t know everything she knew about the waters around Chatham. That was her special secret.
At last her ears caught the sound she had been listening for; it was a low sound, like a miniature fog horn but more musical. It cut through the clear air in a series of short and long bursts. Sarah’s heart began to beat hard in her chest. Come. Reaching down, she unlaced her leather shoes and slipped them off. Her coat came next, folded as neatly as she could manage in her haste. She laid it on the sand, then set the shoes beside it, now stuffed with her socks. Only her dress remained, a thin cotton thing that was entirely wrong for wearing at midnight on a chilly Massachusetts beach in May.
Shivering, Sarah hurried the last few yards to the edge of the shore. Little foamy waves lapped against her toes as she walked straight into the icy water. I used to hesitate so much in the beginning, she thought as the water rose around her calves and up to her knees. She didn’t hesitate these days; warmth was just a stone’s throw away.