As I walked along the beach, I noticed footprints of two others who had also walked on the damp sand between the tide lines– not so very long ago, then. We went along, the three of us, slightly separated in time and space but together in the experience of the shore. It was a fine day, exactly the sort of day for a walk on the beach, spring on the edge of summer, the ocean restful, a glittering topaz plain under a clear sky.
I went along for several minutes, leaving the uppermost of three parallel lines of prints. I looked out at the ocean until the strong sun’s reflections dazzled me, then up the shore to where the trees took over from the sand; a friendly wilderness, tamed by many visitors, as savage as a park on an English estate. I saw a deer looking back at me once, and turned my head to avoid worrying it.
My ramble brought me to a point, such as it was, a gentle arc which marked the east-most edge of the island. I was turning my gaze back to the ocean when I noticed that my unseen companions had stopped here, turning to face the sea. I stopped as well. Two lines of prints became one, the marks overlapping, the same easy distance between each mark as before as they led down to the water. The turning tide rolled up the sand, beginning the work of erasure.
No other marks to north, and to the south just the three paths behind me. I stood for listening for voices and hearing only waves, until I decided the chill I felt coming off the ocean was too uncomfortable. I left those footprints and my own to be consumed by the water.
“On a Beach” ©2019 Dirck de Lint. The story is developed from a prompt on the Canada Writes Facebook group: ‘Footprints in the sand.’