Image: 35mm Ilford HP5+
We were at the coast for the day. The pale sand had already made its way between my toes, and I hated it. The air was grey, blending the sky into the horizon like this beach was the edge of the world and you only had to walk a few more steps to fall off. Her eyes. The salt and the wind stole water from mine, but hers were fine. Her hands rested together, in a way that looked so completely natural. Something I’d never figured out how to do. We sat there on that log, watching the ocean like it meant something.
“I feel like I can’t hold onto time,” I was saying, passing her the joint. “I’ll lose an hour, a day, sometimes months to routine. Going through the motions. Then I remember that I’m supposed to live in those moments. But the present is so incredibly small and then it’s over. Just a memory. I feel like I can’t ever hold onto anything real long enough to realize it. Then I’ll be on my deathbed, this day blurring into thousands of others, not understanding anything. Then I won’t be anything at all.”
Everything was tinted bluish-grey out here. The kind that scooped out your insides and left a shell behind. We had the place to ourselves.
She laughed, not unkindly. “Jesus. I think you’ve had enough.”
Small birds were running back and forth with the waves, the shore littered with seaweed and broken sand dollars and dead things.
“Yeah, I think I have.” The log was rough under my thighs, the splintered wood soft and decaying. I wondered where it came from. How it died, how it ended up here, bleached and naked, in the middle of an empty beach. If it felt anything back when it would stretch for the morning sun.
In the dimming light we took the trail back up to the car, the heavy clouds keeping the sunset from us. When it faded to darkness there were no stars, and no shadows. In the dark, too stoned to drive, we sat there. Together and alone. We had sex then, listening to the waves and each other, breathing the air, in that car, in that empty parking lot. The last two people on Earth.
Through the hills, our lights forced back the darkness that laid around us like a blanket. Her eyes focused calmly on the road, her hands guiding us around curves, with our faces lit orange from the dash. I felt aware. Of the road, the sound of the tires, the rough, dog-claw torn fabric of the seat, my hair on my shoulder, matted and tangled from the ocean wind.
The CD had ended, but I didn’t feel like fishing through the backseat for another one. We’d heard them all a million times anyway. For now, it was nice to just exist, the road pulling our car back to the city, back to our lives. Back to our jobs, responsibilities, and problems. Back to our fights about nothing. Back to that disconcerting pounding in your chest. But we weren’t there yet. I couldn’t smell the salt anymore, but there was still sand between my toes.