An Ending

by: Katherine Machon

A work of flash fiction that is as affecting as it is beautiful, where two very distinct feelings interbreed…

Darkness. The scent of salt and seaweed tickles my nostrils. Nearby, wavelets whoosh at the shoreline then pull the shingle back in a rolling crescendo as they retreat. Lying on the sand, the vibrations shiver through me.

It won’t be long now. I roll my head sideways to watch, and already the first lick of light separates sky from water. The false dawn. I hold my breath waiting for the spill of color. What will it be this time? A riot of red, a starburst of white or a bruised purple reflection from lowering clouds? Unique and nothing like a sunset. Not many will experience this moment of beginning. I quiver with the waiting.

Orange. The sun gives me its best for one last time. The horizon blooms, the sky fades from black to indigo to blue, and the sea is skimmed with silver. A hint of warmth touches my skin and I breathe in the light, filling myself with the golden glow. Finally, I can stand up and go to the water’s edge. I slip my hands below the quicksilver surface and tendrils of red coil outwards. I am clean again. The first time I’ve felt this way in a long, long time.

The early light silhouettes the mass of the land, beginning the day, and I watch as his body resolves, a dark hump floating in the shallows. Food for the fish. It’s all he deserves.

Part of me still can’t believe he came. Did he think I’d missed his night time fumblings and thrusting body in my childhood bed? Did he see it as some kind of twisted relationship that I’d welcomed? Arrogant prick. I’d cut that off as well, thrown it to the sea while he’d writhed around the hole in his gut, begging for help. I gave his cries as much attention as he’d given mine.

The high tide had taken him in the end, drowning his cries in a soggy gurgle until only the rush of rising water remained.

Will somebody find him? Not soon.

The cold water reaches its fingers into my trainers and I shiver, hugging myself. Time to go, but I take one last look at the blazing horizon. The sunrise and the beach has always been my place, but now that is finished.

I walk away as the waking cries of the herring gulls fill the air like the call of lost souls.

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