The path to the water required shoes, but she never wore any. The sand spurs and and the nettles warmed her, the blisters on her feet left a comforting throb. She’d sit by the sea all day, letting the lapping of the ocean unknot her organs. The sunlight would bake away the dark liquid sloshing around in her bloodstream, bringing the toxins to the clouds to drift elsewhere.
When the stars tucked the sun away, she’d wander back to the house and fold back into herself. Say hello. Sit. Speak. Not speak. Speak. Eat at table. Put up dishes. Thank you. Thank you again. Goodnight. Okay, goodnight.
She’d almost drift away in bed, but never let herself. There are only a few times to love yourself, and this was one.
So she’d pack her bag with no flashlight, no shoes, no watch. She’d kick up pebbles and nettles on the way, the breeze tickling her neck and whispering strange, comforting things. She’d sidestep the sea oates from memory, step over the driftwood with her eyes closed. She’d find the soft palate of the shore, settle into the sand until she could feel the grains from her shoulders to her calves, and stretch her limbs in all directions until they almost but not quite hurt.
Then she’d wait.
Her mother would fade into view, a soft and shimmery orb. She’d hum to the sea, and the sea would hum back. She could see just enough to sense her body was there, but not enough to be sure. The sand would bury her in affection, millions of kisses all over. The birds were sleeping, but she could hear their slowing heartbeats. The salty scent of wildness enveloped her, singing her to sleep.
She’d wake with the sun, wet all over and hot. Her bones brittle, but her blood a clean red. And so she’d creep back into the house, the drone of the refrigerator buzzing her back down. She’d undress and get in bed gently, preserving as much of the salty dew and itchy sand as she could.
Then she’d wake again, but less this time. Get up. Brush teeth. Speak. Good morning. Eat. Thank you. Wash dishes. I’m going out. Okay. Bye.
And so she’d sit by the sea all day, letting the lapping of the ocean unknot her organs. The sunlight would bake away the dark liquid sloshing around in her bloodstream, bringing the toxins to the clouds to drift elsewhere.
Virginia Gray is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of The Woodward Post. She enjoys contemporary fiction, Wes Anderson movies, hiking, seashells, and #skippingthestraw.