‘A Still, Small Point of Reference’ by Fiona J. Mackintosh

Each morning as the egg-yolk sun rises down the beach, I see you start your vigil, coffee cup in hand, staring out to where the sea’s a silver dazzle, where every whitecap, every diving bird deceives the eye.

As the days stretch their arc across the water, I watch you watching the horizon, your feet up on the railing, binoculars around your neck. Since I first kissed you long ago in freshman year, I’ve learned to love your doggedness, the torque of it, the thing that drives you on when other people fall away.

But I see how much you miss in all that striving. The ebbing surf on the tight wet sand edged with tiny bubbles. The jerky strut of sandpipers. Humming insects in the dune grass, and the dart of lizards on sun-warmed wood. The taste of salt against your mouth, the sweet drag of fingertips on peeling summer skin. 

Even on that epic day when they crested close to shore, even as you ran along the beach beside them and felt a sonic pulse of kinship pass from them to you and back again, it was over just as soon as it began as the pod outpaced your human stride, the black fins dwindling down the shore and out of sight. And you were left with nothing but the long waves frilling around your ankles, already wanting more.

*

First published in Hysteria 6 Anthology, 2017

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