Fiction,  flash fiction

Charcoal Skies

The sky is charcoal grey with stars in every direction. In the distance, lightning flashes like an orange ball illuminating a low hanging clump of storm clouds. Cool air, smelling of salt and fish is tumbling around me pushing against my jacket, playing with my hair and lifting my skirt with unexpected gusts.

I’m sitting on the beach with my knees drawn in. The sand is hard and soft underneath me. It feels cold and damp, but it’s dry where I am, far enough away from the shore that it’s rippled and pliable, but close enough that if I don’t move, the waves will reach up to me within the hour.

It’s an hour past sunset. The moon and the lights from the houses behind me are the only light. The water reflects the moon, glinting as it ripples to the shore then exploding into white foam as it crashes.

The waves retreat and return, again and again as if the distant storm were nothing to mind. As if routine were more natural than reaction. As if they would never tire of this repetition and motion.

Maybe the waves are right and we are wrong? When storms appear we turn to them and challenge them, trying to prevent or change them but we only get caught up in a scrabble and suffer a lashing. Dive into the wave, dive under it, my surf instructor says. Then go limp, don’t fight it. I can’t help but fight it. Tumbling underwater I can only wonder, which way is up? Where is the air? How much longer will I be thrown around? But always, right when I’m almost out of breath, the wave clears and I rise up, exhausted from my needless panic.

The waves are gaining strength from  the storm, picking up their weight and carrying on, crashing with noisy regularity until the storm passes.

I wait for hours, on the beach staring at the moon and the waves.  I let the rain fall on me, soaking me. I’m not cold. It’s a warm summer night and I am just wet. I keep waiting. The storm retreats.  It has poured out all its energy into the waves and it fades into the distance.

I stand and unstick my wet skirt from my legs. I carry my wet bag to the car wondering if I could ever develop the strength of the waves, the faith of the waves, to trust the repetition and patterns during a storm, to let it pass without fighting.


One Comment

  • kzhowell

    You paint a vivid picture of the scene around you. I can almost hear the waves as they wash up the shore, closer with each pass. That is the picture you paint, but it is the reflective moment that stands out. That almost indescribable moment we all have at times that makes us look inward when the outside gets too close or threatens to overwhelm us with its immediacy.

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