the current will move you

When we drove by, it was tantalizing. "Right over there, over that wall, there's the beach," Gareth said. It was dark, and all I could see was a vast expanse of nothing that might, or might not, have held shifting shimmers of reflected light from the streetlights around us.

Gareth gunned it, and we were gone. The water would have to wait for the next morning.

I'd felt silly for toting my straw hat through the Atlanta airport, but was glad of it as the sun shone down on me as we set up our beach gear. Chairs, towels, water, and sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. The sand combined with the SPF 60 as I slicked down my arms and shoulders, staring the entire time, hypnotized, at the water. Once (theoretically) protected from the sun, I shed everything but the swimsuit and let my feet guide me to the water.

The wet sand sucked at my feet as I sand-scrobbled closer to the incoming tide, and then it foamed over me, brief and unceremonious. I kept walking, and the depth barely changed. A few feet from the water's edge, the sand became easier to walk on, and I stared down from the top of the water, not trusting what my feet were telling me until my eyes confirmed the suspicion. Under the swirl of salt water, the floor held endless, undulating ripples.

We picture events in our heads, and reality never quite matches our imagination. I didn't expect to be so fascinated by the play of light on water, to be able to see bits and pieces of shell half-buried in the sand. Was it a shell? I wasn't sure. I stopped, digging experimentally with a toe, hoping to clear off enough sand that I could grasp the piece I half-saw and bring it to my hands.

"You can't do that, you know."

"Do what?"

"Plant your toe in one place like that."


"Because the current will move you."

I thought of explaining, thought of using my hands to try to bridge the gap between my eyes and the ocean floor, and kept walking toward deeper water. I opened my mouth to say the words but when I did, I tasted the ocean on my tongue and thought no, it could wait.