A Fleeting Wave

The sand is cool, still damp from the rain that pounded the earth this morning, heavy drips still falling lazily from tree branches when the sun came out, light refracting through fat water droplets. I sit on the packed sand, bare feet in front of me, arms wrapped around my knees in the cooling lakefront air.

Before me, beach volleyball nets stretch neatly into the sky. The nets, hung two months ago when the calendar hinted summer, even though the weather resisted, have loosened. No longer tight, stretched taut between the white painted poles, they hang slightly slack, and stray volleyballs don’t bounce off of them, but rather slide, anticlimactically, to the lumpy sand below.

Beyond the nets, the lake laps the shoreline, leaving layers of darkened sand where the water has permeated the fine grains of rock. It’s evening and the lifeguard stands have been deserted; NO SWIMMING the red signs say, hanging where they’ve always been on the backs of the tall stands.

It’s past swimming time, and the beach slowly begins to empty, as the thick clouds in the sky are alternately outlined by the gold, orange, and crimson tones of impending sunset.

I dig my toes under the dark, wet sand, feeling the tiny grains between my toes, digging my feet deeper under the weight of the cool sand. A stray volleyball lands just beyond my feet and I look up, my gaze drawn from the sandy white ball to the cloudy, water color vibrant sky.

There’s movement on the sand then. Yards away, the sand rises slightly, creating a ridge between beach house, next to the road, and shoreline, at the end of the sand. A young boy runs, white swim trunks long around his calves, white shirt vaguely pink in the light of the evening sky. Eyes raised, I follow his direction, his line of vision, to the little group he’s running towards, reduced to silhouettes by my low vantage point and the sky’s glow.

Feet tucked under the sand, I watch the child run, his small body framed against the backdrop of watercolor clouds, drifts of sand woven with thick, hardy plants, the multicolored rocks of the breakwater, far beyond him. And the 8pm warning horn sounds, echoing over the lake, and the sailboats dotting the space where blue lake meets colored sky begin their slow retreat to the boat house once more, and I lean down, pull a handful of sand into my hand, and hold as long as I can to the beauty of a moment that I know is as fleeting as a wave on the water-soaked shore.



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