28 May

 The waves licked at my feet and the pebbles were cool and smooth underneath my sunburnt toes. The wet seabreeze formed little droplets all over my skin as I let go. You stood there watching me, contemplating when I would step a little closer toward where the waves went crashing down upon the sand, creating rippling lines of receding white foam. I did step closer, and I made the mistake of looking back at you- arms folded with an expression I couldn’t read.

I turned back toward the sea, and the foam waves had reached up to the knobs of my knees and was creeping higher still, wettening my thighs and soaking through the fabric of my favorite summer dress. It floated all around now like some kind of water lily. I heard your gravely voice, tactile like the sand I could barely reach now with my toes. “Kick your feet! Move your arms!” The salty water kissed at the ends of my hair and brushed at the surface of my lips. I bounced up and down with the rhythm of the waves. I was just barely still in control, dancing breathless with a dangerous partner. At any moment it could have dragged me off into the hidden tides no one could see, and no one but him would ever know what had happened to me. I felt a push of water flow toward me, like wind whipping between city buildings. It tugged me with it. My feet lost contact with the sand, and my eyes with the saphire blue of the noonday sky. Pressure filled my head and water my lungs as I fought to stay in control. “Had he known this time there would be the strongest tide?” I wondered in my frenzied struggle to stay alive.

Turns out he didn’t know, or so he said. “Just wanted you to learn to swim.” He leaned over me in the hospital bed, his arms folded like the time I looked back at him on the beach. I told him he reminded me of the rhythms of the sea and that he was making me sick. Felt the water in my lungs all over again, just looking into his sea green eyes. Felt like I floated half conscious in his arms as he reached out to touch my still damp hair. He could never teach me how to swim. After I’d whispered this through my throat, cracking with salt, he receeded back out through the heavy wooden door, and I reached out to squeeze the last drop of water from my favorite summer dress. It was drying nicely now in the sun pouring through the picture window.


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