a day at the beach

Lonely for nine years, one dimensional and pale, she waits for a broad-brush stroke of animation to color her in.  In a crowded world, she exists in solitude, as insignificant as a strand of grass in a pine tree forest.  Pushing through crowds she doesn’t do. But she rides on a crest of ineffective air between the likes of those who walk in pairs, under their words she floats as sentiments fly wildly all around her.  She’s untouched by warmth transferring from one heart to another.  And she’s invisible…she’s the shadow not the body – a trick that no fourth grader can recognize as the fatal catch twenty-two that it is, she thinks.  Sometimes she’s a ghost.  Most times she’s a ghost.  And so she floats, never in one place long enough so that she feels planted.  No one knows her name.  No one knows her.  Three, four…four checks on a Reader’s Digest cover take inventory of those that would crease their forehead to ponder her eternal absence.  Four.  She thought there would be more…someone, someone.  The number is four.  The list has been abridged.  The thought of one keeps her hanging on.  The thought of three terrifies her.  She pictures herself leaking life, watching it run out of her and onto sand, like blood.  But she’s full inside.  Full of boxes.  Boxes of life are stacked all around, and they are all labeled with dates.  That’s what you do when you have enough time.  That’s what you do when you have memories for breakfast.

When you lie on the beach and you wait for the sand to swallow you, there is a feeling of nervousness that embalms the limbs and won’t let them relax.  Shapeless bodies gather nourishment from the heated energy of the sun in all directions.  They are warmed slabs, reddening like meat on a spit, seasoning themselves and turning to evenly cook.  For her, however, the sun is a thief and her spirit is being reduced in half-lives, scooped out of her chest in heaping spoonfuls.  While the flesh pinkens, her heart turns white and she is aware that despite the lingering expectation that tomorrow may not come, there is a more pressing fear hanging in the balance between a sachet of sealed memories and a stain on the floor that was once love; she feels her depletion may prolong itself over centuries.

Night begins at the horizon as a fiery sun is pulled evenly below the skyline.  And darkness creeps towards the coast, swallowing silhouettes of bobbing fishing boats and widening it’s mouth like a Burmese python as she watches it approach, helpless and immobile.  Eventually she is consumed and left suspended and twirling in a black box of eternity, hanging from a ceiling she can’t see by one strand of ashen hope, wrapped around her throat and twisting her neck as it slowly unravels.  There was a time when stars were friendly to her and they sparkled in the sky like flagrant passion splashed and spattered and thrown in wicked patterns across the black canvas heaven from a wildly spinning earth.  She recognizes them for what they are now.  She lies on her back and reaches out with bent fingers for the severed souls that have been hollowed and staked to the charred heavens above her.  Soon she’ll join them and finally deteriorate into a permanent vacancy of sunken space.  The thought of disintegration comforts her.  She closes her eyes, her hand drops into the sand beside her body.  She begins to gently push air from her lungs, slowly counting memories with singular lines, on the back of her eyelids.