This One Time, 37

This one time I sat on my naked ass on a beach with black sand. The wind was cold at my back, but when it blew off the waves, it was as hot as any oven. The sun edged toward the top of the mountain at my back, promising a quick and early sunset.

A watched the waves roll in, stacking on top of each other in their rush to bring in the tide. And everything else the tide would bring.

I shivered and gasped with the chill. Then poured with sweat. Breathing was a chore.

With the sun at my back, the colors of the sea were amazing. In the blues and aquas were pinks and oranges, and the sun itself played in the waves like a school of porpoises made of lightning. The clouds in the sky were impossible colors and shapes. A textured leopard-skin shot with green shadows against an orange background. Gulls hovered in the breeze, coasting up and down and looking for snacks, their backs to the impossible beauty.

I coughed. Seawater trickled from a sinus, dripping past my numb lips. My swimsuit was bunched in my left hand. I couldn’t feel that either. My legs, also numb, were crossed under me.

In my right hand I clutched a tiny, tiny jellyfish, freshly removed from my freshly removed swimsuit.

My muscles were locked. I couldn’t move. I was locked up with cramps. Once in a while I could shiver.

Also on the beach: some humongous chunks of driftwood. What looked for all the world like most of the skeleton of a cow. I couldn’t turn to look at them now, but I saw them before I went into the water. Also on the beach: maybe twenty or thirty other people.

I desperately wanted help. Needed help. But I couldn’t move, couldn’t shout, and, apparently a stark naked woman sitting on her ass on a black sand beach, clutching her swimsuit and watching the waves come in, was something to be ignored. Or maybe treated as part of the incredible beauty of the place.

The colors were fading from the world. I was dying, and I was blending right in, wracked with pain, paralyzed, and dying with the sun. Dissolving into the sea.

As blackness approached, giant forms detached themselves from the scenery around me and approached. I was more aware of their presences than able to see them, but the two in front of me were more visible, stretching from ground to sky, black, shiny like obsidian, like the sand of this place, silhouetted against the dimming grayness behind them.

Their forms were dreamlike and harshly beautiful, like this place. Maybe they were the gods of this place, come to collect me.

Scented winds rolled down off of them. The one on my right, closest to me, brought the smell of rotting wood, of musky unnameable flowers, of the sex-life of animals. Without seeing her move, first I saw her looking out to sea, as tall as the clouds herself, crowned by an early star. Then she was facing toward me, as naked as I.

To her left was a sculpted pillar of a masculine form, so tall the setting sun lit his scalp and crowned him with fire. The wind from him smelled of brimstone, of fresh lava, of wind-eroded earth, of wood and soil on fire. To the right of the pillar-woman in front of me, right and beyond, was a wide man with his feet in the water and his head in the growing stars, smelling of the skin of living fish and of the sea.

I could sense at least two more behind me, one for each peak of the mountains, their wind smelling of fresh snow and frozen blood.

They spoke with nearly unheard unearthly rumbles underneath the roaring of the surf and the wind. Or maybe they spoke with the surf and the wind too, and the roaring of the blood in my ears.

The pain was unbearable. My breaths were too slow and too shallow. My cramps turned to convulsions and pitched me sideways. Slowly, sedately, the gods of this place knelt to receive me into themselves.

And then, over the roaring of blood and wind and wave, I heard a distant voice: “In her hand! Holy crap! Is that a sea wasp?”

“Keep her breathing! Let’s get her some help.”


February 6, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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