The Woman on the Beach

She stood alone as the dawn slowly made its way in the eastern sky. The sand, slightly damp from the tide now ebbing, tickled at her toes, but she was seemingly unaware. Eyes focused only on the brilliant orb peering up on the horizon. The wind was still, the moments interrupted only by the callings of a few early-riser seagulls. She heard them but they did not break her spell of watching the sun.

Later, after families and children started to crowd the beach, she stood there still, eyes fastened on the horizon. Birds flew and dove with wild abandon. Children played and shouted as the waves cascaded and caressed the sandy shore. She heard the noises as if she was in a vacuum – distant sounds that did not distract her from her thoughts.

She let her mind wander aimlessly, never losing sight of the horizon miles out in the ocean. The sun beat down brightly but she didn’t notice the heat.

All afternoon, she stood routed in that spot. She was not conscious of time except for the sun changing positions, having moved over her head and now slightly behind her shoulders. Families were beginning to pack up, heading home for dinner after a day romping in the sand and water. She sensed them leaving without attention to the movements.

After a bit, she could see the sky beginning to darken, feel the solitude of the area once dense with beach-goers and birds whose energy, now spent, had gone. And still she stood.

Finally, as the moon began to reach towards the now dark sky, highlighting the clouds around it, she broke her reverie. She looked down and was surprised to see her feet in water. She immediately wondered if the water lapping at her feet was the tide or a puddle of her tears.

Not turning, she took a few steps backwards. Glancing at the horizon, she took a deep, shaky breath, knowing that the time had come for her to leave it behind and move on. One the exhale of that shaky breath, she made the first sound she had made all day. She simply looked once more and, before turning, said one word…

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