By the Sea

22 Jul
Ben poured the last of the coffee and went out on the deck. A boy was on the rocks, casting a line into the water. He tipped his hat at Ben and Ben lifted a hand back. The sun began to rise.The boy was joined by a young girl with long brown hair. She punched the boy on the arm. Ben felt his chest constrict. He gulped coffee and it burned his throat. A seagull landed on the rock behind the boy and girl, hopped over to the boy’s bucket. The girl turned to see the thief skitter away, worms dangling from its beak, and she shrieked, the sound both cheerful and terrified.The bird hopped toward her, flapping its wings and screeching. She screamed again, and now Liz came running out onto the deck, a brown ribbon of tea spilling from her mug. Her robe was untied, revealing the faded Eagles t-shirt and Ben’s boxer shorts she’d worn to bed.

Ben and Liz locked eyes and over the happy shouting of the startled girl and the full-throated laughter of her brother. They thought of their daughter whose name they no longer spoke aloud, and the car that had swerved onto the beach, headlights sweeping the pier, the sound of her shriek seconds before the car struck, the spray of blood on the sand, the splash her body made as it hit the water. Ben wondered, not for the first time, why they still lived by the sea.

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