The Beach / by Brian Beck

For today, a short story...

The man walked up to a beach shrouded in fog.  It looked familiar but it had been a long time since he'd seen it, so he wasn't completely sure.  The last time he'd seen it, the sun was shining and the sky was pale blue with just a wisp of mist hanging at the intersection of sea and land.  He looked at it for some time, studying it's features.  Finally, he decided to speak.

"Aren't you that beach from 1997?  Remember?  I was driving by and you were lying naked there in the afternoon sun." 

The beach said nothing.  However, the longer he stood there, the more convinced the man became.

"Come on, you remember...  Children were collecting shells and driftwood.  There was a Labrador splashing in the surf.  And there were blackberries as big as my thumb growing in the dunes right over there..." 

Still the beach was silent.  The man grew frustrated that the beautiful beach refused to acknowledge his return.   He decided to try again.

"Remember how I stood here and ran my fingers through your sand?  And how I took my shoes off and walked a mile out to the water to meet you?" 

The beach made no sound.  A wave rolled across the face of the beach, washing the sand away in rivulets that resembled tears.  The man thought for awhile.  Maybe he had imagined it?  It didn't matter, he thought, there are lots of beaches.  Maybe there is another that is sunny?  He sat down to wait.  He would have to see it in the sunshine to be sure.

*  *  * 

A man walked up to the beach.  The beach lay comfortably shrouded in a blanket of fog.  The beach thought the man looked familiar, but then again, people were always stopping to stare at her.  After a while, they all looked the same.  He stood there for awhile searching her and it made her uncomfortable.  Finally he spoke.

 "Aren't you that beach from 1997?  Remember?  I was driving by and you were lying naked there in the afternoon sun."

 "That describes approximately 100 days of the year," thought the beach, "and that means there have been 1,900 days just like it since that I haven't seen you.  You just remember me because you saw me naked that day."

The man spoke again.   "Come on, you remember... Children were collecting shells and driftwood.  There was a Labrador splashing in the surf.  And there were blackberries as big as my thumb growing in the dunes right over there..."

This was an improvement.  He saw the gift that the beach had given that day.  The beach gave the gift every day though, even on days when she wasn't beautiful.  The man seemed to understand the gift but she wondered if he understood that she had no choice but to give it.  If she didn't, it would be taken.

The man seemed frustrated, his voice had risen before, but this time the man spoke quietly, almost in a whisper. "Remember how I stood here and ran my fingers through your sand?  And how I took my shoes off and walked a mile out to the water to meet you?"

Tears washed over the face of the beach.  She remembered that day now, how the man had touched her sand and imagined the children collecting shells and driftwood were their own.  She remembered how the sun felt warm and instead of feeling naked, it made her feel like she glowed with the sparkles of a thousand little suns.  She tried to speak to him but all she could do was summon a memory for the man.  She rued that he had chosen such a foggy day to come to visit her but she hoped the man would stay.

The man sat down to wait. 

 Clearing fog along the beach at the Oregon coast.  iPhone 6s

Clearing fog along the beach at the Oregon coast.  iPhone 6s