Temple ruins set on a cliff overlooking the sea. In my imagination, this place has always existed.
It’s real. I’m here.
A breeze, heavy with salt and seaweed and mist and everything that only the ocean can offer, caresses my cheeks. Tousles my hair.
Waves wash up, lapping the rocky shore, gurgling like a newborn babe. They retreat, leaving frothy rings on boulders worn smooth. It reminds me of a root beer float, those cream-colored bubbles. Then they are gone. The waves roll up again, bringing their foam, then run away.
I tried to run away once. I was seven. I stuffed my pillowcase full with mismatched socks I didn’t need. Mother hated when my socks weren’t the same color. And I brought bubble gum I loved. It was watermelon-flavored. The kind Father hated because it smelled the whole room up. And I thought how wonderful it all was. How it wouldn’t matter because they wouldn’t be there. I could chew with my mouth open and blow enormous bubbles and pop them all over my face and no one could say anything because I would be alone.
Alone on a cliff overlooking the sea. Temple ruins set behind me.
It’s real. I’m here.
Just like I imagined.
The sun is setting, creating a golden carpet for my feet to step upon as I dance atop the sea before I sink.
I set my pillowcase down, strip my pants and top off, and skip to the cliff’s edge. I curl my toes over the place where earth meets air and jump.
I laugh so loud. The wind pulls the sound so all I hear is something that sounds like distant drumming. My legs scream, or maybe it’s me. I forgot how much it hurt. But I smile as I leave behind what I was never supposed to be.
By the time I hit the water, I cannot feel my legs. They are gone. They are one. They are me. They are the iridescent tail I remember from a time when I knew what cerulean blue scales looked like underwater while the sun was setting, creating golden carpets on the surface.
“It used to be a lake,” she prodded the patch of ice with the toe of her boot, cracking the glassy surface.
He bent to wipe some dirt from the shards. “Nah. Maybe a stream. A tiny one at that.”
“Look,” she pointed down the path. “It goes on for, like, miles.”
“It wasn’t a lake,” he rolled his eyes. “Too much overgrowth on either side. Too thin.”
She looked at the sky, blowing out a puff of icy breath. “It’s what my grandma says. A lake.”
He reached inside his coat pocket, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Smoke?”
“She says my grandpa died fishing. And lots of other people drowned here. It’s like a frosted graveyard this time of year.”
“Huh,” he lit a cigarette and sat on a nearby rock. “Well…not sure what to say, actually. Um, sorry.” He peeked around her at the sunset. “Nice place to die. I mean… Nice view for, you know, the ones…”
She crouched next to him, tracing her fingers on his leg, staring at his lap.
“Get up,” she grabbed his jeans, pushing him away. “That’s not a rock.”
This is my first attempt at #writephoto, a weekly writing prompt for poetry/flash/short stories hosted by Sue Vincent – Join in the fun
October 12, 2016 prompt:Sand – In 99 words (no more, no less) tell about a walk across the sand. It can be a literal day at a beach, in the sand box or a metaphor of your choosing. What is the sand like and what does it reveal to the reader?
He perched on a rock, tilting his face to the sun and listening to the trickling stream. It used to snake through the woods, rushing by this spot. A dip in the earth, full of fresh water splashing up and over boulders like the one he sat on.
At least that’s what they told him. He had never heard the water crashing into stones and trees. Sometimes he thought about what clean water would taste like. He imagined it was sweet, like berries.
The elders knew. They knew the river was drying up and they prayed.