Wilson Koewing ~ Beach, Ball

The weath­er on the Carolina coast had been strange; a result of trop­i­cal depres­sion rem­nants. The sky cleared on a Thursday and the beach­es filled. I stubbed out a Spirit and popped the top on a new beer. Down the beach, a tod­dler walked toward the ocean hold­ing a beach ball over his head with both hands. A wave knocked him over and sent the beach ball sail­ing for­ward. The wind took it out to sea so fast the father rush­ing down couldn’t save it. They stood watch­ing the beach ball slide away on the calm flat beyond the break­ers grow­ing small­er and small­er. The waves land­ing and reced­ing against their feet gave them the appear­ance of stand­ing still and mov­ing for­ward. The beach ball float­ed out until I could no longer see it. A tanker ship fad­ed away into the hori­zon. A sin­gle engine plane buzzed over­head trail­ing a tat­tered flap­ping adver­tise­ment. I buried my toes in the sand. 2020 kept com­ing. I downed the beer and dragged my ocean kayak through the sand, past the first break­ers and hopped in. I fig­ured I’d pad­dle straight out against the fiz­zling after­noon light and find the beach ball. Far enough off­shore, the sounds of the beach are over­tak­en by the sounds of the ocean. The planet’s curve becomes pro­nounced. I paused to rest and lis­tened to the slap slap of close water. I drift­ed into a bait pod of small fish being riled up by larg­er fish with sin­is­ter inter­ests. The sea swirled and small fish jumped all around me. One land­ed in the kayak and flopped on the plas­tic sur­face toward a small pool of rest­ing water in the bow. It seemed safer there than in the ocean, so I let it heave for oxy­gen half-sub­merged. Looking back at the beach, the peo­ple made lit­tle progress with their move­ments. Beach hous­es, backed by trees, gave way to pre­sumed dis­tance that bled for­ev­er out into the coun­try. I nudged the lit­tle fish back into the water and pad­dled out until I could see noth­ing but ocean. As I was mak­ing no progress against the hori­zon, I pad­dled far­ther still.

Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. He received an MFA in cre­ative writ­ing from The University of New Orleans. His work is forth­com­ing in Menacing Hedge, The Loch Raven Review and The Remington Review.