What McManus Asked the Sea
The waves lapped steadily outside the mouth of the cave. From inside, he pictured salt water crests tipped with soft foam as it crashed violently against the rocks that dotted the beach.
Steady, it was so steady.
He focused on the rhythm of its comings and goings and silently thanked God when his breathing finally calmed down enough to follow suit.
He stared at the razor line of the horizon and tried to remember the dusk that colored the sky as a sun dipped back into the ocean. It had only been a couple hours since, but for the life of him, he just couldn’t recall any of it.
He looked around the cave, for some odd reason. Maybe for a sign or an answer from that dried clump of seaweed or that curious mound of dirt.
Anything, anything at all.
The seaweed and the dirt said nothing. The waves, while louder, contributed more of the same.
He looked down at his knees and the shapes they had made moving in the sand. They offered nothing.
Past his knees and deeper into the darkness of the cave, it was the cold body of his best friend that finally replied.
But it spoke more questions than answers.
“Why’d you have to run?”
When he asked the half buried corpse, his voice cracked. He tasted the salt in the sea air when he licked his dry lips.
“You didn’t have to run.”
He held his hands in front of his dead friend’s face, his palms were raw from the digging.
“Now here I am, hoping that this is deep enough that the gulls don’t get to you.”
His sore fingers grabbed handfuls of sand continued finishing what his best friend, the coward, began.
“You stupid shit. You dumb motherfucker. You didn’t have to run. Fuck you, you piece of shit.”
When the last handful finally fell, he took a moment to catch his breathing back up to the rhythm of the waves. His knees groaned when he stood.
“Why’d you have to run, you son of a bitch?”
He spat on the new shape he had made moving in the sand.
“Who do you think is going to do this for me when my time comes?”
From outside the mouth of the cave came sound of the tide retreating back into the ocean, the same answer it’s always given.