Maria Rachel Hooley
©2009 Maria Rachel Hooley
Standing on an Oregon beach in early April, staring at the tide as it dragged in bits of driftwood, I wondered why I hadn't bothered to visit the ocean before. The tide swept in, then swept out again, every now and again leaving tiny shells on smooth, wet sand that begged for someone to draw in it.
While gazing out at the endless rolls and swells of water, I thought of two things. First, I had just turned thirty a month ago. Second, I wouldn't live to see another birthday.
Frowning, I eased off my shoes and stepped barefoot into the cold water. A sudden breeze cut through my sweater, deepening the chill and reddening my skin. I shivered and took in the empty beach, content in my solitude. Glancing down, however, I saw fresh shoe prints, and I knew I wasn't alone.
I looked up. Overhead, in a blue, watercolor sky empty of clouds, white gulls flitted overhead, circling and reeling together, darting this way and that, dipping their wings aimlessly to the eye but intent, somehow knowing. I breathed deeply, savoring the tang of the water. Shivering, I stepped away from the shore into the grooved tracks made by other feet.