by Amanda McLeod
It was barely nine in the morning but the sun already overexposed the world. The sky hung cloudless, an azure cloche over viridian water. The heat soaked into your skin, at first warm and inviting but turning to stifling, a promise of late afternoon. Under your feet, smooth careworn planks gave way to sucking, gritty dryness that scraped at your ankles and toes. You ploughed through that heavy gold towards firmer sand, tinted ochre by the receding tide, where you stood with shaded eyes and looked out past the ripples and waves scattered with seafoam.
You felt the earth give beneath you as you wandered to the water’s edge. The warm breeze tickled the fine hairs on your ams, promised seaweed and salt to your nostrils, gently drew your hair back from your shoulders, caressed you. As you stood between land and sea, wavelets gambolled playfully across your feet, enticing you with their come-hither-run-away game. You stepped forward, watching clear water cast impossible shadows on your skin, striping you like a tiger. Tiny high-pitched ankle splashes broke their voices as they reached your thighs, and you plunged beneath the water, the crisp high fidelity sounds above you muffled as you floated in the earth’s briny womb.
You hung there, weightless in dappled liquid silence until oxygen deprivation turned from needles to knives. As your head broke the surface, the sun poured into your eyes and down your throat, filling your belly with light even as sweet air quelled the pain in your lungs. On your back, you ebbed and flowed with the water’s rhythm, feeling the rise and fall of your own ribs, breathing with the planet. She rocked you, massaged your limbs, trailed fingers through the banner of hair floating around your head. You closed your eyes, tasted her saline. Sand slipped beneath your fingers, through the hourglass.
The smell of her stayed with you; you pressed the tangle of your hair to your nose as you inhaled her on the journey home, trying to stop the open car window from grabbing the scent and tossing it up in the air, like a crinkled old crisp bag left to float to the ground.
Amanda McLeod is an Australian creative, whose words have appeared in Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, Brave Voices Magazine, and elsewhere. She loathes being frightened, loves rainy nights, and wishes it could be summer all the time. She tweets about writing, books, and art @AmandaMWrites