Sand everywhere. Stuck to her toes, her thighs, the bones of her cheeks. In her teeth even, and so gritty. And the sun, shining and shining on her skin no matter how much she tucked herself underneath the umbrella, legs folded in, arms against her sides; it still found her! She could feel the tops of her feet burning, the skin around her ankles and calves, the heat of a sunburn beginning across the tops of her arms. The sun so bright here all day like a punishment. Like a thing designed to make you repentant. It gleamed off the water, bouncing and bouncing into her eyes, ceaselessly glaring and blurring her vision and leaving her blinking hard. In contrast, the water itself was so cool, so clear, so refreshing. When she stood in it, she could see her feet underneath her, the small fish swimming around her, nibbling at her toes. It lapped at her skin with a gentle shushing sound that made her sleepy, waves rolling in and out.
From her chair, she can see sand crabs flitting in and out of their holes, digging and pushing at the sand, their little pincers clicking as they move sideways across their kingdom’s. She wonders what they are doing out in the middle of the day with their translucent bodies and their searching eyes, venturing out into the bright sun when they could hide in the dark goodness of their holes. And the seagulls! Always searching and swooping down, landing near her chair and squawking so loudly it makes her jump. The crabs must be afraid of them. Or the pigeons. Or the people around her shouting and jumping into the waves with their scorched red skin. She watches kids dig holes in the sand, filling buckets and dragging them to the ocean. She watches them dart and dance on the shore, shouting in kid language and laughing with their faces the chalky white of strong sunscreen. Their parents stretch themselves out on beach towels and blankets and hand one another cans of beer and bags of chips and slices of deli meat piled onto bread.
A man comes down the beach towards her, his skin lacquered by the sun. He stops right in front of her chair and faces the ocean, his hands on his hips, completely blocking her view. She stands and walks out towards him, stopping as close as she dares. He glances at her, his glasses reflecting her face, and asks her name. She tells him and he smiles as if she has just told him a secret. His mouth is so soft and bright in the sun! This man with his dark glasses that she wishes he would take off. They are both silent, but in her head, she asks him who he is and where he is staying and if he wants to go somewhere to get something cold and icy. In her head, the two of them walk back up the beach and his hand feels cool in hers and they wave goodbye to all the people and the crabs and the birds. They stand there in silence until the man eventually continues walking down the beach, footsteps devoured by the waves.
That night, on the deck of the house she is staying at, she sits and watches the sunset with a bottle of red wine. She watches as the sand turns a dusty lavender, watches as the colors of the sky explode into pinks and oranges and deep magentas, watches as the inky purple of the night slowly swallows the day and the ocean turns dark and formidable. How fragile she feels! The vast ocean right there – she can hear it and smell it and even taste the saltiness of it lingering in the air, but she can’t see it! Only feel it like a great pulsing on the horizon. Like a heart constantly beating right beside her. And the wine so warm and fruity. She could move to this place, let her skin turn to leather find the man who must be tumbling her name in his mouth, searching and searching for her.