A Night on the Beach

By Robert Russell

 

A tiny melody rang repeatedly in his head. “I’ll be the sea; you’ll be the tide.”

The pale waves like a dream crashed quietly far ahead as he dug his bare feet into the cold sand. Perched high on a dune-side, half-drunk, a bottle of whiskey sat to his right, his only companion.

 

The moon, a scintillation seemingly in arm’s reach, invaded his sight, a nuisance, with just enough light to see the tide rising and falling in syncopation with his chest.

 

Flashes of that fateful night plagued his mind relentlessly, his plight, sending jolts of electricity shooting down his spine, stricken. He’ll never forget their faces as he found them, there, lustful deer in that godforsaken bedroom.

 

He buried those thoughts like his sandy feet as he had time after time after time before.

He took a quick, strong pull from the bottle and grimaced for a second.

The slow burn in his throat gifted him with a glimpse of something and he grinned with dead eyes.

 

He guessed he probably had a few hours before the sun would ascend from behind the loud, black-curtain offing in the distance and he didn’t want to see it.

 

She, seated to his left, offered him a cigarette from a soft pack which he retrieved from his shirt pocket. He lit it, watching, listening to the burning extremity glowing barely audible under the white crash noise, and exhaled forcefully. This would be his last, he swore to himself. Peering towards the phantasm next to him, he fought to find his words and eventually acquiesced, not caring of course. What had happened, had happened. It was over. The deed was done. It didn’t matter. And she shouldn’t worry.

 

He took swig in vain and her visage evanesced.

 

He remembered the first time he saw the ocean. Then he remembered that nostalgia was nauseating. His only wish was to silence his mind, to feel the crisp wind on his face, to smell the salt, to hear the waves fall, to see nothing, and think nothing. But he knew his wish would fall on deaf ears as no one was listening. Ever.

 

One last attempt to stifle the clamor in his head, he downed the rest and threw the bottle into the abyssal blanket of darkness shrouding him. The night grew darker.

 

His tired eyes drifted as he reclined and sank into the dune.

The cold sand became the warm embrace he so desperately desired.

His head was heavy and his breathing shallow.

As he fell into dreamlessness, he felt the tiny, empty pill bottle roll off of his lap and fall into the sand.

He wondered lastly how long it would take for someone, anyone, to find him.

The pale waves continued to sing the same, repeated melody, a comfortable departure.

And he was gone.

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