by Jake Christie

a story.

Stand on the very edge of the wet sand and look out over the ocean. Turn your head from left to right. Follow the horizon line, however far that is, from one terminus to the other. Look down. If the water is getting closer to your toes, stay put. If it's moving away, come back later and start again.

Curl your toes and dig them into the sand just as the first wave crashes over your feet. Feel the water lap at your arches and wrap around your heels. Wiggle, from the biggest little piggy to the littlest little piggy.

Stretch your arms out and feel the wind on your skin. Shiver as the sensations of warm sun and cold water mingle. Don't realize how ridiculous you look with our arms out, in your impromptu Messianic pose. Take a deep breath of salt air.

Look down as the water wraps your feet in liquid cool. When it retreats into the ocean, you'll feel yourself sinking. The water will pull sand from under your heels and your toes and your arches and you'll be pulled down to take its place. Lean forward to get a closer look. Watch the next wave pull you deeper, pull sand on top of your feet.

Get buried a few dozen grains at a time. Wiggle your toes so the sand bubbles somewhere in front of your ankles. Feel your shoulders burning. Hold your ground.

Close your eyes. Reach a state of perfect enlightenment. Become one with the ocean, one with the sky, one with the sand, one with the breeze. Become part of the universal One that is Everything. Come to the understanding that everything is made up of atoms; nothing more, nothing less. Realize this for exactly one half of one second.

Open your eyes and realize that the water has reached your ribs. Look around, frantically, to see that the shore is now far behind you. Try to move your legs but find it impossible, as you have now sunk up to your knees.

Windmill your arms, fully aware of how it makes you look. Wonder how close the water is to the tide line, how much more the tide will rise. Envision a scenario where you spend the next six hours stuck on the beach like a support pylon for some never-completed structure, pondering the mysteries of the universe, befriending seabirds as they float lazily by. Come to the realization that this is no better or worse than what you had planned anyway.

Close your eyes and try to reach that state of enlightenment again, but find it slightly out of reach while you're worried about drowning. Try to gauge whether the water is rising or staying at the same level, and whether or not you're still sinking. Think about a lot of things in a very small amount of time.

Convince yourself that the water is no longer rising. Enjoy the cool reprieve from the sun. Think about what a funny story you'll have to tell your friends the next time they ask, “Have you ever stood at the edge of the water and felt yourself sink?”

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