STORY 4, Part 10

Good advice, as unsolicited advice went. His voice was like a slow breeze over the sand.

"I got a granddaughter." he said.  "I can take her to the river. Learn her to swim. But I'd rather bring her here, where I learned. A trade?"

I agreed to it.

The next weekend, we started on the swimming pool. We shoveled the sand away from the surface. Then Hadley and his friends brought in a scooper and a blower and cleaned out the years of tumbleweeds and sandstorms. Finally, we washed the deck and sides. At the deep end of the pool, set behind glass bricks, was a large assemblage medallion. Pottery, glass bits, bright jewels and mirrors, set in a magical vortex.

Aunt Ruth laughed when I told her, over the phone, what I had found in the pool.

"Well, I couldn't very well tell you to start right out cementing your wedding gifts onto the rocks, now, could I? You found out, though."

I no longer work at the Hyatt. You would be surprised at the number of women who come here. Artists of loss. Each one broken off from a life that seemed her own. All of them burdened with objects of memory. Worthless and dear. They pay what they can. Bring food, swim in the pool, stay a day or a month.

They assemble what they have brought, carefully, working on sections of the new wall or the upper terrace. Some women will lay a life to rest with a couple of boxes of artifacts--refrigerator magnets, coasters, dishes they would never again enjoy a meal from. Others keep returning with items of near-sacrificial value.

One woman had to lay down her entire silver service and the sharp slivers of the crystal wineglasses, before she was ready to go home.

Walker Hadley brings his granddaughter to swim and works on the tower, the lengthening wall.  He manages to stay ahead of the decoration by a few yards.

In the day, the sun and the sand seem the same:  heat and glass and objects of life in the raw. 

In the evening, the sky is pale blue and pink. The bright moon rises over the mountain, is caught and reflected in the multicolor treasure of the walls, lingers on the water.

In the Chocolate Mountains.