Beach This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The water danced just a few inches below his knees. Frothy and tentative, it fell lower and lower with each tired wave. He looked up from the water, dizzy and disoriented, and was again awestruck by the majesty of this beach. The brooding ocean, vast and secretive, stretched before him, an unnameable blue that mirrored the sky. Beside and behind him was the beach, littered with candy wrappers and abandoned castles, somehow seeming patient and tolerant of man. Waiting.

At the height of the season, this same beach had been swarming with a riotous profusion of colors and smells, as the vacationers tanned and sweated, oblivious to their own horrid stench and gaudy displays. But now, in late fall, there was no one but him. And a million footprints, remnants of so many flailing bathers.

The quiet was almost stifling. No tourists chatting. No children screaming. No seagulls crying. No cars wheezing. Just the rasp of his breath, haggard and irregular. Even the waves now pulling at his ankles were silent. He wanted to yell, to shriek, to sing. Anything to break that heavy silence. But inertia kept him still. And fear.

The man slowly looked from his left to his right. There was no one there. No one anywhere. Behind him, he knew, the beach stretched on and on forever, as far as anyone could see. He didn't have to look behind him.

He dug his toes into the cold, hard sand. The water sucked at him, pulled the ground from under his feet. It was bright, the sun. Very bright. Too bright. He wished for some clouds to come along. Or a plane. Anything to break up that painful blue. Instead, he closed his eyes. And started to whisper. Softly, then louder. And louder still, till he was screaming. The same thing, over and over. Crazy words, nonsense words, but they formed a pattern, rising and falling with the cadence of his raw voice. Then he was crying, too. Crying and screaming, but still he stood there. With tears streaming down his weathered face and his words hanging heavy in the air, he stood as if rooted to that spot.

Suddenly, he stopped. The silence was immediate and immense, and seemed to crush him. But he knew what he had to do. He sucked in his breath and took a small, uncertain step. Then another, and another. Until he was knee-deep again in the anxious ocean. Deeper. Deeper still. But now the blue, rather than being painful, was simply divine.



No one was on the beach when the ocean moved up to fill in his footprints. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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