SURVIVAL • by Andy Leigh de Fonseca

The colossal wave loomed in the background; a cascading wall, floating on water, moving toward shore. Its own beast, it took time, gaining energy and force for its descent.

She squinted against the setting sun, which was casting orange across the deserted beach.

All had run. She didn’t. She knew it was inevitable. This was the first of many, so running would be a waste of precious time and she didn’t want to spend the last moments of her life sweaty. If this was the end, she wanted it to be here.

As the strong wind played in her hair, she lifted her arms and let her dress toss violently in the breeze. If she jumped, would she be carried away?

The wave was now closer, bigger.

Her carefully painted fingers gently pulled down her white sunglasses to cover her eyes from the blowing sand. A plastic kid’s shovel hit her leg.

She grabbed it, knelt down, and etched large rectangles into the sand. There were four, side by side. She tossed the shovel and crawled from space to space, writing in each box.

“Mom” — “Dad” — “J.P.”

She lay in the last one. The wave not far.

If no one was going to survive, she wanted to spend her last moments pretending as if everything were normal, with the ones she loved.

As she stared at the growing wave closing in, blocking out the dazzling sun, she wondered if she had decided too soon.

The thrashing water reminded her of her mother’s light blue dress, the last one she would ever see her wear. The wind carried her mother’s perfume and voice.

She could again hear her mother ask if she wanted to run with them, to a safe place. She didn’t have to stay here. It would be like a family vacation, only not coming back for a very long time.

She told her mother she didn’t want to go. She would continue to run the family business here, so when they did come back, there would be something to come back to.

Now there would be nothing.

The water played at her toes and the roaring of the wave wasn’t horrifying, but musical. An orchestra of low bass and tympani followed the beating rhythm of her heart, as if her acceptance of what was coming had granted her her own private, grand funeral, complete with fresh air, sun on her face, and dignity. There were no heavens above, only the scattering of stars and between them, vast emptiness. Somewhere up there was her family.

Off in the distance, seagulls squawked. They circled above and around the boardwalk she played on every day as a child, which was not that long ago. To her left she saw the colorful Ferris wheel, where she had her first kiss with her first love, who was probably running with the rest of them.

She buried her hands in the sand, the same soft, white sand she had built so many castles with. Never was there a more comfortable resting place.

Droplets fell on her face. Looking up, she observed they weren’t from rain, but from the looming wave, hovering momentarily, almost asking if she were ready.

Taking off her sunglasses she took a deep breath in, filling her lungs with her mother’s perfume.

She was ready.

Andy Leigh de Fonseca enjoys many things, but cannot afford most. Writing is inexpensive.

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