Prompt 001: Low Tide

The first entry in a new series of posts to encourage me to write more. I’ll post a picture (taken by me unless credited) and find something to write about. Not much, just a little. Reading is beneficial but you need to write to write better.

CNV00042

Seeping away the tide fell down the beach and he waited above for his baskets to rise from the shallows and ground. Gulls stalked the wet sand while the last of the evening swimmers returned to their towels and away into the approaching evening.

He guided the jeep down the slipway, raising a hand of apology to a family who waited at the bottom until he was clear and onto the beach. Although they smiled they did not look at him and he felt like he was a great inconvenience on this quiet evening on this quiet beach. The tires floated over the sand crackling upon dried seaweed. He drove a circuit of the beach as it was near deserted now and the gulls watched intently until he drove too close then leapt into the air and hung above. He pulled the jeep parallel to the receding tide and stopped. The radio hummed softly and with the waves massaging the shore with care and the birds crying above in that half light between the land and the clouds it was a beautiful moment. He cut the engine and sat, face half out the open window to observe the dull warmth of the setting sun and those darkened rocks offshore.

When he was a boy he would ride down to this beach on his bike and wait for his friends at the top of the slipway. If he had enough money he would buy an ice cream from the kiosk across the bay and eat it on the walk back. When they came they would swim out to the rocks. They were good swimmers all of them. Sometimes they would go too far but that was the excitement of it. Youth, when unsupervised, is forgotten. Once his friend Tommy had stepped on an old fishing hook out on the furthest rocks that you have to squint to see and the hook had gone right through his middle toe. He went pale and cried though there was no blood. On those rocks with half a mile of water between them and the beach they thought he was going to die. Tommy didn’t want to move or be left alone so he volunteered to swim back alone to get help. He swam as fast as he could and he ran all the way up the beach to the kiosk, where a man who was also a lifeguard worked, and together he and the man both ran down the beach with a jacket and a ring. When he reached the water he shielded his eyes from the sun and peered out to see all of them swimming towards them, far away. He saw them circling Tommy, taking turns to support him, shouting encouragement. It looked like sharks taunting prey before the kill. When they finally reached land they collapsed and laughed and cheered and embraced. The hook had fallen loose from Tommy’s foot on the swim back.

If he wanted to go out there he could reach them easily now-to stare back at the beach like he used to all those years ago with aged eyes-but those rocks suddenly seemed more distant than they ever had when he was a boy.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015

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