The day is pale, the sky gray, a mind full of thoughts. Thoughts of a town, of an ocean, of a beach, of an array of shimmering seashells. Of a boat, of waves. And in the midst of all of these thoughts, the man thinking them is conscious of every step he takes, of every street he crosses, the monotonous sound of his feet tapping against concrete, and a pale sky, and seemingly a never-ending ocean.
He slowly reaches the ocean, the sound of waves crashing against the beach fills the air. Walking along the sand, although the motion itself is the same as walking against concrete, is soothing, far more so than the gravel that makes up the sidewalks and roads in this small town. The ocean breeze moves back what little hair he has remaining atop his head, and he smiles. Smiles as he has every other day he has lived here. Every other day that he has walked to the beach in the early morning, and watched the repetitive motions of the forming and crashing waves.
The man walks toward the ocean, where a boat is awaiting him. A humble sailboat that has gotten him through his toughest of times, and he boards the boat, as he does every other day of his life that he has lived here. I’m getting too old for this. He thinks, but he does it anyway. He does it because going on this boat is what he loves most in life. He loves sailing, he loves the ocean. He doesn’t know that this will be the last time that he will ever sail. So he walks on, and takes the paddles in his hand, ready to continue and come close to ending his life. But again, he doesn’t know that just yet.
With paddles in hand, eyes on the ocean, and a heart like the sea, he slowly rows out to the ocean, ready for a peaceful ride through ever-changing waters.
The ocean numbs his thoughts, perhaps that’s why he likes it. The only thing that he can think about is the water, and the constant and predictable movements of his paddles, his paddles, and his boat going over waves, constantly, predictably. Or perhaps, he likes the unpredictability of the ocean, waves don’t follow a timer, where they all come between the same sized intervals, a wave triple the size of a large boat could come, or a wave so small that nobody could even notice, anything could happen at any time in the ocean. Or, perhaps he likes that balance, of the unpredictability and the predictability, he’s not sure. But it doesn’t matter, he loves the ocean, love seldom has very logical reasoning. So he rows out to sea, further, further, further.
Once he has reached the point where waves stop, and the water is truly still, he lays back in his boat and watches the sun slowly come out from behind the clouds.
He wakes up, startled, for he had not known that he had fallen asleep. The sun is fully out, and the tide has come in. The tide has come in and waves are getting steep. How am I going to get back to shore? He thinks. The waves are choppy, the wind is going fast. He gets up and begins to row his boat in, but he is being pushed back by the wind. He stares at a wave go by, it is easily double the size of his boat. Unpredictability, the most dangerous thing in the world, yet the easiest to fall in love with. With all of his strength, he begins to row back to shore, he is sweating by the time that he has reached the point of where waves are actually forming, forming and crashing. He rows harder, harder, faster, faster. And then…a wave. A wave as big as a cruise ship, or at least it looks that way. A wave that he can’t get past, a wave of all waves, a wave to remember, one that he wishes he could forget. He doesn’t know what to do, so he paddles away from the wave, towards the shallower part of the water, the part that has rocks and coral. He didn’t know what to do, so he did exactly what he shouldn’t do. He yells and yells.
“STOP! HELP! SOMEONE! PLEASE!” But the wave doesn’t stop, and there is nobody to help him. So the wave comes, he wishes that the world would shift into slow motion as he has seen in films, but it stays at the same pace it always has been. The wave forms, bigger, and bigger, and then it crashes. It comes down far harder than he had expected, and the world turns blue, he can’t even process the pain. He slams against jagged rocks, he can see the thick maroon blood all around him, his foot gets stuck in between two long sticks of coral, so he can’t even swim. More pain, more blood. His tears are completely indifferentiable from the ocean water, but he knows that they are there. Then, his boat slams against his head, and the world goes completely black.
A Flash Fiction Tale by Shaan Sood