The mildly abrasive, warm, yellow sands stretch out to the limits of my vision, and tickle calloused feet as I squeeze and release chunks of sand between my, supposedly longer than normal, toes.
I am tenuously holding between thumb, index finger, and middle of my right hand, a flimsy plastic trowel. A pail, no larger than a gallon milk jug, with a slight crack in the side, is suspended from the crook created by the inward curling of my left pinky.
A gull eyes me curiously from the bramble where sand meets rock. My eyes drift further up and observe that the rock then meets turf and concludes with an inclining slope of grass. The hill is spotted with dandelions upon which alight oblivious, and content bumblebees.
I breath in the crisp, invigorating sea air, pause, and exhale with mild force. I drop to both knees and begin construction. Given these tools, my work is tedious, but, infused with passion and persistence, my fashionings begin to yield structure. In time I have managed a firm bastion, one which I feel can withstand winds, the piercing rays of the sun, and even advances of various shore creatures.
I’m putting the finishing touches on the machicolations and parapets, when I hear it.
The beast announces itself with a gurgling, churning, gushing sound. I turn and the remnants of its grasp are burbling languidly, but dangerously close a few feet from my soles. In the distance it extends a long, black paw, with tips of despair, in my direction. The grasp falls closer, and I know, no moat will suffice to salvage my castle.
So I abandon my bastion. I move closer to the rocks and begin to rebuild. It’s tougher going this time, and the tools I have are ill fitted for this construction. So I give in to the waning of the day, and retire upon the grass.
Warm sunlight graces my cheek in the morn. And I turn to see that the beast has retreated, and given an expanse upon which to build.
The early morning endeavors are rewarded by a laudable edifice. And in my appreciation of my works, my senses are softened, making me unaware of the stealthy nature of the beast, until it was upon me.
The blackness engulfed my legs, and a cool numbness overtook me. I felt a mixture of melancholy and apathy and was immediately frozen in place. The beast pulled back for another swipe and in that instant, sun rays warmed my legs and penetrated the chill, and I scrambled for the shore.
I tried the dirt from the turf, but the flimsy trowel nearly shattered with the efforts. Digging in the grassy ground yielded no better results. Resigned and mildly disheartened. I retreated to the grassy hillside for respite.
The next day I poured my energies into my creation, and the battlements were prominent, and towers displayed magnificently upon my castle. With pail, trowel, and determination I forged my simulacrum from the accommodating fragility of the sand. Undeterred by potential advances of the beast, I built on, glancing occasionally at that vast, shadowed, expanse with apprehension.
But the blackness remained placid. All day long, only intermittent rivulets graced the sands. The beast was quiet.
The next day was equally productive. More structures resulted from hand, pail, and trowel. Refinement occurred upon the original structure, and a moat was created encircling the bastion. I felt a compulsion to try a new structure, and found joy in creating a pleasing pyramid-like sand sculpt.
The vast and murky emptiness, remained still.
And still did it remain through the next day. And still I built and rejoiced. My miniature world was formidable, and beautiful. Day after day I polished and created. I added and chiseled. I formed and reconsidered. I built up and made beauty from the beach.
I turned my back.
And the beast mustered some unimaginably powerful strength, crushing me with a great swipe of its claw.
Saturated and soaked with sadness, I stared in despair at the shadowy sluice dripping from my limbs. Before the sunshine could warm me, the beast pounced again. I was drenched in despair, drowned in desolation, and my developments were destroyed.
I ran from the beast. And in time the black fluid that had washed over me dried in the sun.
I woke later the next day. I went to the sand and began building, slowly. By noon, I had built a chalet. I watched the dark liquid anxiously, but expectantly. I took a few breaks, and watched this coal-colored mass.
Where was that gull? Strange, that the bees seem to have vacated this place. The golden radiance of the sand was turning grey. I injected my hand into the beach and withdrew a palm laden with dark sluice. I flung it towards the black expanse.
I tried again the next day. The beast mocked me with its stillness. I built in the warmth of the sun. Bucket upon bucket, tempered by trowel, I forged a construct beyond simple grains of sand, beyond what was at hand. Though the tools were poor, I made the materials more than microscopic shards easily sifted through a hand. And in my enthusiasm, the lapping of the surf failed to catch my ear. The pulsating roar from the black maw reverberated in my ear as the mandibles bit down upon my feet and left chills in my veins.
I hadn’t the strength to resist this time. And though the sun warmed me not long after the intrusion, I retreated and lay in the grass, and stared blankly at the black waves.
The next day I sat entrenched on the beach and stared at the endless blackness, with construct in my hands, daring the beast to attack me. I mockingly put up my weary dukes, and lethargically threatened to power a haymaker through its advances.
But it only lay dormant in the pitch black wasteland it must call a home, and answered not.
I returned the next day, and laid back in the sand, and dared its approach.
And in time the beast came.
I felt it first upon my extremities, and I felt the sands sinking and caving to its advances.
It swelled to my torso and I acquiesced. The beast’s tendrils were numbing and cold but relaxing all at once. I felt the blackness engulf my chest and surge towards my neck. It pulled and drew me, all the while anesthetizing everything. And then all I could wish for, was for the beast to draw me into its shadowy aquatic depths.
Pull me from this vacant shore.
Inch by inch drag me toward the darkness.
Let the black waves take me.