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.