When I see you, I’m floating on my back, rocked by the ocean and bobbing like a seesaw. I glimpse the shore every few seconds when the waves nudge my head upwards and I watch the clouds hang above the sand dunes, scrawled with a pink haze, like a child had taken its thumb to a red crayon and dragged it across the bottom of the sky. Pools of glassy orange swim like fish over the dunes and amongst the group of people dotted across this slice of the beach. They lurch and stumble, drunk and clumsy in the sand. You stand at the edge of one group, a beer in one hand, the inside of your left jean pocket hiding the other. You are taller now and your hair is longer. You haven’t seen me yet.
Although it is getting late, I don’t feel cold, even in the water. There are no waves, just the gentle sway of water ebbing out towards the shore and back again. I breathe in, close my eyes, let myself sink a few inches. My toes dance amongst the fringes of seaweed reaching out from below and my hair ripples around my face as I drift under the ocean’s skin. I open my eyes, though the saltwater stings, and look upwards, though water rushes through my nose. The flickering party lights from the shore cast hazy patches of colour above me, pasted upon the ocean’s surface like a double-exposed photo. The music is muffled; a dull, rhythmic thud, as unmalleable as it is mechanical. I count the seconds as they pass, and my lungs get thick and tight. You haven’t seen me yet.
I wonder if you’re enjoying the party. When I surface and look back towards the beach, you have moved positions to sit near the shore. You trace shapes into the sand with your fingers. People have started to leave. The crowd has thinned. I tread water to keep myself afloat and watch as they stagger away beyond the dunes. You haven’t seen me yet.
“She throws the best beach parties you’ll ever go to,” you said about me once, a year ago, when I was handing invitations out. “She’s such a water bug.”
I watch you from the water. You know where I am, I can feel it. Though the sun is gone and the ocean is dark and you don’t look up from the winding shapes you have drawn in the sand, your hunched back and clenched jaw betrays you. You will be one of the last to leave, though you aren’t nearly as drunk as the others. Until then, I will stay here, waiting where the water holds me.
Sophie Greenwood (she/they) is a twenty-something writer from London, UK. They live with their partner, their semi-obese cat, and a great deal of plants. They used to work in a bowling alley.
Artwork by J. Iner Souster
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