There wasn’t another living soul on the beach. He had fond memories of this place. They’d come here on a jet plane, he and the others. A beach to play on. A beach to feel the warmth of the sun through your eyelids. A beach to lie in the cool sand and think of death. A long, long time ago.

Days after he left his homeland, they closed the borders. This was not an age for travel. He couldn’t fly on the jet planes, and his passport became invalid overnight. Still he made his way over land and sea, sometimes alone, sometimes traveling with companions. Mostly alone.

He’d heard things. How Joseph burned alive, trapped in his house. How Pete and Alice were picked up trying to cross the border, never to be heard from again.

They’d planned to arrive together; a family reunion. Now, here they were. Pete and Alice danced in the shallow water. Joseph clambered onto the wet domed rocks. When he finally reached the top, he’d jump off again, laughing. The sun was hot, the day was perfect, and it had all worked out in the end, just as they’d said it would.

He stood with his feet in the cool sand, and he watched them play. There wasn’t another living soul on the beach.

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Xander Bennett rearranges words for fun and profit. Read a preview of his new book at

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