By Edward Wolf
I remember how tranquil the ebb was that summer morning. I remember enjoying the peacefulness by floating around on a child’s ducky-tube while sipping on a jigger of a bottom-shelf tequila. It was immature and a cheap high, but also an easy way to disconnect once more before returning home. Ah, home, the distressed zone where my body and mind had become so infected by obligations that I began taking extended business trips, or I should say prolonged personal retreats, remedies for a life that had chosen to quit on me.
The prescription eventually emptied around noon, about the same the time the high tide began to rip into that sleepy ebb; the breakers appeared like they were searching for something lost in their undertow. Along with the tide’s impulse I went searching too by paddling out through its rising swells to an out-reaching sandbar. It was an intoxicated and nonsensical idea, I can be sure of that now, but for some unfound reason I wanted to witness fury. I needed to hear the rumble of the tide’s crashing whitecaps and know if I was braver than its peril. A search of my soul, I suppose.
When I, the half-deflated tube, and the empty jigger of tequila landed on the bar, it became apparent the structure was rather thin and its narrowness stretched further down the shore than my eyes could follow. Closer were Laughing gulls, puffins and great black backs, cawing and cooing back and forth at one another. They reminded me of the wild time I had the night before at Jove’s Seafood Island watching a ballgame, drinking margaritas, and bickering with patrons late into a night of extra innings.
As I hazily tried to recall the entire evening, I found myself standing regally on the sandbar’s frothy surface, fair as a foundering lighthouse would at the furthest edge of existence—waiting, pondering, and staring out into the vastness. But alas, the tide’s fury came slowly. So slowly I wandered down to those playful, cawing seagulls with a hope they would fill my empty jigger with whatever they were having. Which appeared to be much fun and with some to share until they flew leisurely away. Seemingly, to tease me away with them. For just as those gulls departed, the tide hurled its waves over the bar, as though the birds’ departure was a precursor for danger. A warning I chose to ignore. Then, from shore, came whistle blasts and red flag signals sent by lifeguards also trying to change my nonsensical motive, but I neglected these rescuers as well; they were nothing more to me than the obligations I meant to avoid. Life’s arbitrary rules and regulations.
I escaped still further down the bar until finally a strong, sustained wind of isolation blew into me. It sent wanting waves over my head and threw my body until it pulled my embedded feet from the sand, making me a mere small torrent of the ripping current.
It was then I realized my initial perception about a rising tide was unfitting, for I felt no fear of it or reason for bravery. To the contrary, I no longer desired space on the shore anymore, nor for a beach chair, nor a jigger of tequila, nor for any further life of obligation. I was overcome by a mysterious lure, a strange, new compulsion, a ghostly desire to be floating over that sandbar alone, where life loved me again…marooned in a high tide.