I’m dying out here

St. Petersburg Times
Special to the Times

I'm on the beach. A storm is brewing somewhere out there. Beach- walking is supposed to calm you, but I'm too busy watching for the rogue wave to be calm.

    The surf's rolling in, creamy-topped, moving from breaker to breakerette, foam to ripple to slick, minding its own

business. But I'm keeping an eye on the horizon. Out there where it's purple-gray and the freak wave is moving toward me from the Bahamas.

    Here's my plan. I'll see it coming like a dark wall, and I'll run west as fast as I can. When I get beyond the flats where the dunes rise, I'll fling myself down and grab hold of the grass. Face in the sand, take one deep breath before it hits.

    No matter how many tons of salt water crash over me, I won't open my eyes or let go. Because the ocean will go back and, if I'm lucky, I'll still be here, limp as seaweed, wet as a drowned rat, but alive.

    When I'm by myself on the beach, half of me is thinking how grand it is, me a mere speck beside all this blue-green crashing, and the other half of me is waiting for the ax murderer. It's always a he, though he could have a drugged-up, crazed woman with him who'd do anything he said.

    He's on foot, or on a bike, or with a bad dog like a Rottweiler. I'll see him coming, tiny, down the beach and start my plan, which goes like this: "My husband is right behind me." If he doesn't buy that, I'll try running. Screaming won't help out here; the ocean swallows the loudest shriek.

    I keep meaning to practice my screaming in case I run into him in a quieter place. In the daydream, I don't get away. I am stabbed or throttled and my body is tossed into the sea. They find me all swollen and nibbled at and they say . . . What a pity.

Here he comes now, on a red bike. I square my shoulders.

    He nods.

    I say, "Hi."

    Then he's gone. He was cute, nice teeth. I wonder, like most women, unless the guy's actually being wheeled away with a sheet over his face -- Is he married?


***

Norma Watkins is a frequent contributor to Sunday Journal. Her memoir, The Last Resort, was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2011.

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