Tuesday, June 15, 2010

La Mer

On a windswept shore he sat looking out to the sea. He leaned back against the dune, his feet burrowed into the sand with his hands buttressed against the ground on each side. His hair would flap with each gust of air, picking up bits of sand without him even noticing. There was no one else on the beach that day; he had walked a bit farther than usual so it would be that way. It was him and the sea, no ships, no birds – not even a buoy to distract his view. For him, like so many other people, there was an interpersonal connection with the sea that no one could really relate to. The conversation had no words nor facial expressions. There were no hands to convey an idea, no pauses or lapses in speech. Instead it was only the constant repetition of the sea’s undulations. It was pacifying to him, these waves, because he knew that no matter what – even if he looked away for a few seconds – once his eyes came back to the sea, it would look just as it did before.

Of course in truth, each wave was unlike any of the previous ones before it. Like the people that he knew in his life, these waves could only be differentiated by the time of day they hit the beach. Just as names helped sort the people he had met in his life, or the cities that he had met them in - for a more personal outlook - each crashing wave marked a tally of his time spent conversing with the sea. He treated each crashing wave as a last goodbye after viewing it roll in from the sea, watching it mature since its very beginning, from wherever it had first originated.

Beside him he had a satchel with a few of his favorite items. A compass, so that he would never get lost, a watch, so that he’d always know the time, and a pen and paper so that he could scribble off his notes. He was a man of solitary structure, constantly finding himself pitted against whatever antagonist he had created in his mind. Never satisfied with himself and constantly in need of reassurance, he used the sea as his getaway and source of all solace. It did not speak back nor question his thoughts. But it was better than scribbling notes to himself in a room. It was far better that the wind whipped at his body and the sand buried his limbs ever so slightly. You could say he was a masochist, but it wasn’t exactly pleasure he was looking for. He wanted independence and a freedom from whatever shackles others kept putting on to him. Just as they wanted this, he would want that. When others caught on to what he was doing or where he was going, he could switch ever so abruptly without a word, lost without a trace.

As he looked out to sea thoughts kept resurfacing in his head that he had put aside just a day or two before, some even years. He wondered why she had acted that way the day before or why he said that statement in such a manner. This was his problem, he told himself, because he saw this infinite loop of old and new thoughts as a constant reminder that he was going no where. He was too caught up with the past yet also the future. He couldn’t live how he wanted to – free and without constraints of others as well as his own. This idea of perfection and concentration eluded him for so long. He couldn’t remember when it began or when his mind decided to think this way, but the more he sat on the beach looking at the sea, the more that each wave, one by one, one after another, over and over and over and over, would hit and smack and trouble his mind. The foam of the sea imitated the porous structure of his mind, his lack of clarity in thought. Jumbled, lost, composed yet only slightly. One second it was his life on the largest scale, looking at it from a distance outside of his coordinates, beyond the stratosphere and far into space. He visualized himself as a number, a speck a singularly unimportant influence upon the constituency that he was apart of within society. Farther and farther and farther he’d dig into his mind looking out at the sea, pacing but not pacing, jumping from ledge to ledge, sometimes short and fast but then slowly and cautiously. Waves would roll in, swelling back and forth, flattened then arching, dipping then peaking. Until suddenly he stopped.

He paused. He looked past. He stared instead of watched.

Far in the distance, beyond the horizon and over the sea he peered with the concentration he so desperately yearned for. It wasn’t a speck he could focus his eyes on; not an anchor to sharpen his senses. He had no guide and no parameters other than the spliced sea and sky, woven together by the choppy horizon that lay before him. The dark blues of the sea and the incoming storm in the distance warned him of the times to come; what truly lied ahead. But as he sat there staring into the charcoal clouds that sighed heavily above the sea, he squinted his eyes and grimaced in disgust. Without looking at his satchel he reached for his pen and paper. He managed to grab his pen first, fumbling around for a piece of paper buried somewhere within his bag. A slight crumple let him know he had found a piece, scrunching the bottom right corner of his parchment. He pulled it out, lay it against his right thigh and began sketching what he saw in the distance. By now he had changed position, removed his hands from the sand as well as his left foot from below. His right remained buried, pushed down as he applied pressure onto the parchment, the sand still cool underneath the surface.

The sketch would make little sense to anyone besides himself. A poorly drawn line represented the horizon, a few squiggles below it representing the sea and its waves. Incomplete circles joined together by scratchy marks and covered over by cross-hatched patterns looked to be the clouds, outlined deeply with black ink. He kept going over the clouds, defining the lines yet causing them to look sloppier with each stroke. Layer upon layer, his ink soaked into the parchment until it became so soft that his pen ripped through. Piercing through his trousers, the tip tore into his skin releasing a gush of blood. Just as the waves did before him and the clouds far in the distance, the wound swelled with each pulse of his panicked heart. It came in gushes as he attempted to blot the wound with the paper he had been sketching on, yet the cut was too deep to easily be stopped. He threw his pen to the side and began unbuttoning his shirt. His fingers slipped on the first button. He looked down to see that the blood had accumulated on his hands. As he wiped them on his thighs, the wound surged once again, causing the stain to grow on his trousers. A sharp pain flowed from his thigh up his right side and into his core. He yelped with pain. His heart was now beating at a rate that thud in tempo with the sea.

As the blood seeped from his body he couldn’t help but wonder how such a witless mistake could cause so much loss. He cursed himself, the sea, the sun and the sand. He cursed all he had ever loved, all he had ever yearned for and all he could remember. Yet no profanity could keep the blood within his body. It seeped and it flowed, slowly yet surely until the blush in his face faded away. His eyes sunk in, his heartbeat diminished. For each wave that would roll in, his heartbeat would lessen by a pulse. His back aginst the dune, incapable of moving but an inch, he smiled with whatever strength he had left. For a man that had cared so much about structure and caution within his life, here he was left to drain upon the beach with all the sea watching. A careless mistake – a simple mistake – was that which cost him his life. It wasn’t a she to blame for or even a he. Instead it was the black ink, soaked into his flesh, mixed with the blood that had kept him alive for so long. Bleeding, continously, until the last drop left him without enough. But as his body lay upon the sand, the waves kept crashing, the horizon remained the same and the the sun fell slowly into the evening’s dusk. His eyelids, tired as the sighing clouds above, drooped softly over his empty gaze. The sand around him had been stained a somber crimson, lingering for the evening’s tide to spill in.

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