by Katherine Piperno
When you almost lie down, right before your ear rests on your arm, you can hear the ocean. You can hear the waves and then you feel the sun tanning your skin and the wind rustling your hair and you taste the salt in your mouth.
He took me to the beach one day. We laid there all day. At first we talked the whole time and then we just sat there sinking into the sand and sinker deeper into love. When I looked in his eyes I couldn’t hear the ocean anymore. I couldn’t feel the tanned skin or the wind. I couldn’t taste the salt.
His look could make you weak. It could make you feel like you were drowning. It had power like that. But it could also lift you up, high like the sun. It could melt you and warm you and then freeze you and then melt you again. He could make the whole ocean disappear or make you disappear in the ocean.
Maybe he didn’t know his eyes were so powerful, maybe he just wanted to love you and lay on the beach and admire your tan skin, just lines and curves.
But maybe he did know. And that made him more powerful.
And everything was like that. The sand the color of his skin, the ocean the color of his eyes. I felt free in his embrace but I couldn’t also help but feel trapped. If you go into the ocean, you may never come out unless the waves decide to bring you back.
His hands went over my body. Just like on the first day when we lied down in the wet sand and the tiny waves barely reached our shoulders. They were strong, they didn't always go places I wanted them to. But I couldn't stop it, all I could taste was the salt. I gripped the sand but it just fell from my hand. I wished I was the sand in that moment. The sand was free, free from the look in his eyes and the power of his hands, slipping through my fingers and drifting with the breeze. But if I were sand, I would have been in his hourglass. His hands had the control to shift me and move me. Turn me over and lay me on my side.
But some days he would let me be the sand running through my fingers. He wouldn’t look at me like I wanted him to. He wouldn’t take me to the beach.
But I loved him, and I loved him too deeply. I loved him more than I loved the way the salt tasted. I loved his looks. I loved his hands. And I even loved him when he had me in his hourglass and when he turned me around and when his lovely hands went where they did that day on the beach lying in the wet sand with the waves just barely reaching us. I loved him deeper than he went that day, I loved him deeper than the ocean could take me and I loved him deeper than the blue in his eyes.
I think he loved me too. But he loved the ocean more. And so we went to the beach everyday and we lied in the wet sand everyday and I felt my body stuck in his hourglass everyday.
Then, he looked at me and it didn’t feel the same way. His eyes couldn’t control me anymore. I was freer than the sand running through my fingers on that first day.
I left him at the beach, alone. All he could do was get lost in the ocean, which was now stronger than him.
I never went back to the beach, but some days I do still miss the taste of salt, and the sand running through my fingers. And sometimes, just before I lay down, I can hear the ocean and see the deep blue…