Retirement was supposed to be relaxing, fun, but since his final night as a fireman Mike had been anything but. He breathed in the fresh salty air and continued his walk down the beach, trying to forget that last fire. Mike and his beautiful wife of thirty years, Sheila, moved to Boca eight months ago, but the image of his friend’s granddaughter, Jackie, leading him out of the firetrap still haunted him.
Mike gazed down the rock strewn beach and froze. His chest tightened in shock. Jackie sat on a small bolder in a thin white cotton dress, windblown hair trailing. Mike rubbed his eyes, but Jackie remained. He walked to her on shaky legs.
“Am I hallucinating again?”
Jackie smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “No.”
“Did I see you in the fire?” Mike’s voice sounded strained.
She turned away and stared at the crashing waves, twirling a strand of her brown hair. “You’re not crazy, but if you keep talking about it people will think you are or worse, it’ll attract the attention of some very bad people.”
“Like the ones who wanted to kill the boy you rescued. They set the fire. We saved him and will keep him safe, but that’s all I’m permitted to say. Please, enjoy the retirement you’ve earned, but let it go.”
A smile crept across Mike’s face for the first time in months as she walked away. He’d stay quiet, but letting it go just wasn’t his style.