I hate the ocean…
He pulls off the road, and we bump along onto land that feels uncertain
under the wide tires of the SUV. His headlights catch the sea, the waves, the endless line that seems to dip past the horizon.
I pry my fingers loose from the door handle. He has a flashlight, and he’s guiding me through brush and hills of sand, right onto the beach.
“The ocean,” he says, like he’s unveiling a painting.
“The ocean,” I repeat, as i lace my finger through his.
The moon is a tambourine in the sky, clouds covering and uncovering it, now you see it, now you don’t. Far away is a campfire and laughter, and we step across beer cans and shells the shape of guitar picks.
“I almost drowned once,” I say. The ocean is so loud he asked me to repeat it and I can’t.
“It’s beautiful, right?” he says. He wants me to love it. I see in him everything I’m not.
I felt a chill then, that ran to my toes, and back up again until it clutched my heart. I reach in my pocket for a cigarette, and pull it out to light it. Here, at the edge of everything, I need a smoke. I need a Xanax, but nicotine will have to do.
He cups his hands over mine, and I give the cigarette up, and he holds me.
“It’s all right,” he says, and offers the cigarette back, but I don’t take it.
The sea is rumbling, the spray so close now it hits my face. If I walk out three steps I will be ankle deep in the ocean. If I turn and run I can be back to the car in three minutes, tops. I look at him. I wonder what he sees in me. You never really know. I think, if I stay, that he will break my heart open and it will either die or fill up with light so bright I will shine on nights like this.
I think I’m ready to shine.