Flash fiction piece exposing our inability to reconcile life with the realities of death.
Pinks, oranges, crimsons—they all rolled along with soft clouds from the sea breeze onto the coastal water west of the sun coast. The sun never looked so red, dangling from the twists and turns of cumulus tower. I sat among the glitter of white sand reflecting the dimming light. A gust caught my curls and drove effervescent foam from the water’s edge onto the sands caught by my toes. A gull flew overhead, soaring above a wave’s crest.
I thought the sands should be whiter. They were softer, finer, brilliant dancing lights. I remembered something and saw a rude replacement. All I saw was darkness. A blackness of unsteady thoughts, infecting my mind with insects—crawling and biting away at the last string of sanity hanging from the clouds. One by one, the threads were all snapping under the weight of despondency. I knew not what to do. I traced lines into the surrounding sand—tracing the outlines of ghosts of forgotten friends.
A wave pushed toward me, driven by the incoming tide—erasing my misshapen figures—as I had become a reflection of the mercurial seas. Selim came out from our apartment, armed with fresh orange juice and cakes. His eyebrows never lied—they were almost black, and each emotion he possessed were expressed by darts and furrows of his arched brows. He knew the mean reds were back. For the better part of the day, I sat on the sands, watching the sunrise and foam wash ashore—attempting to grasp whatever beauty which others seemed to understand. Families began to rush away from the shore—laughing, enjoying—all unaware of any pain within the ocean currents.
Light shone through at one point. I remembered the awkward days in Sarajevo when google translate was out third-party. Snow spit from the grey clouds above—encircling his face before settling on his shoulders. He looked at me—into me—as he exhaled a stream of smoke meandering outward before retreating into the fog clinging to ancient stone. His eyes softened again, lowering his eyebrows. He appeared vulnerable for the first time; speechlessness had swept over him, leaving his magnetism behind. I grew weary—why was Selim now approachable. His gaze dropped to the coffee below as a young girl walked with her mother, begging for cakes from the bakery next door. I noticed the aroma of fresh bread carried on gentle breezes wandering between a mosque and the rows of cafés and shops. Laughter and chatter along the cobblestone camouflaged a hesitant murmur from Selim’s pursed lips. For the girl and her mother, the bakers, for everyone else in the heart of Baščaršija, it was another winter day of fog, flurries, and errands to be sorted. The day owed them nothing, and they had nothing to owe the day.
His eyes flashed upward; his grin widened as he chocked up a short chuckle. He spoke something with clear excitement. I knew only the word "love".
Darkness encroached on wisps of clouds—obfuscating the pink skies and glittered sands, and nature was replaced by glass bottles and cigarette buds. Selim went inside, saying he would like to shower the day away and watch a movie with me. I sat still, watching the sun lower below the horizon over the Gulf of Mexico. I watched the undulating waters creep ever closer inland, and remembered, at one point, I enjoyed the expansiveness of the sea—but I had never swum. I saw a lone gull cooing from a nearby pier—mocking me, enticing me to explore the depths of the turbulent water. I wanted to feel the pressure of a wave striking against my chest. I wanted to see nothing but water. I followed the gull away from land, plunging into the waters. The water felt as a bath—there was not a sting, no fear.
Death began to whisper his atonal voice—seducing, beguiling, and promising—calling from the distance. My arms felt weak—and for a moment, shocks reverberated in my head. I thought of one thing: Selim. I saw his face—and forever lost his image.