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The loud, harsh laugh broke across the ocean’s swell in a loud crack. Feet stuck deep in the muddied shore, seaweed wrapping like chains to his ankles, his face was the picture of dark amusement with wide, exaggerated eyes, head thrown back and hair whipping at his gaunt face. His hands rose up above him on either side, a man crucified by the wind.
And down his arms dripped long streams of red, winding towards his torso.
Mixed with the seaweed were shards of glass bottles, shattered and carelessly thrown aside. They bit into his ankles, mixing blood and water, extending to meet up with the wrappers and plastic strewn across the shoreline. The wind dried the salty tears on his face until they were indiscernible from the ocean spray.
“Gone,” he whispered to the wind, his voice raspy as that of a man who’s been alone for a great while, “All gone.” Another laugh tore free from him.
The wind still tore at his clothes, his skin, and pushed the blood from his shredded hands to soak into the already dripping shirt.
The world around him was deserted, the rapidly darkening sky a powerful warning.
“They’ve done it,” he called, this time louder. His voice rose to a scream, “They’ve gone and done it!”
Leaves tossed around him in the whirlwind and danced across his skin. The clouds moved closer to each other, huddling in a black mass across the atmosphere. The ocean’s waves drew themselves up into mountains of powerful, crushing water.
Along the waterfront, he could nearly see the people huddling in their basements and bathrooms to wait out their storm even through his eyes blinded by salt. He could hear their pathetic cries, feel the wasted electricity in unused rooms above their heads and below their feet. Every bottle in their trash cut him like a thousands knives.
“They should have known.” His voice had again lowered in volume and was lost in the harsh wind that was simultaneously blowing him over and holding him up so that he was stuck in suspension. “The should have cared!”
Then he was shouting, rivaling the cacophony around him, “They should have cared!
In response to his cry, the wind sped, whipping trees and rocks and sand into the air, inverting the sky and the land.
Slowly, painstakingly, he pulled one foot from the sand and, using his momentum, pulled the other one free. The moment he was standing on his own, the wind pushed him, driving him forward, and he let it.
With a contented sigh speaking of great relief, he was swallowed up to his waist in raging waters.
His face, previously so solemn and stern, collapsed into a joyous grin. “I’m home…” he whispered, reaching forward to caress the oncoming water like a lost lover.
He pushed forward, feet wading through the murky depths.
In one breathtaking moment lightning flashed and thunder cracked, brightening the sky in brilliant whites and halting the storm for a heartbeat.
And in that moment, he fell.