Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Story 148: Heat Waves on the Ocean

            “I can’t believe you’re still going to the beach today,” her mom said.  “The rip tides are really bad, the place is crawling with litterbugs, and it’s supposed to feel like 115° in the shade, the water’ll be boiling.  Where’s the fun in that?”
            “You don’t understand: the sea is calling to me!  And I already took the day off from work.”
            The sea also called to a few hundred other people on that stretch of the coastline, and she had to park about half a mile away from it.  No matter: she had carried her umbrella, chair, beach bag, lunch bag, and purse bag as if she was embarking on a trek across the Rockies in the past, and she could do it again.
            All the good spots had been taken hours ago, so she snagged an open square of sand two feet from the parking lot entrance.  Melting already, she planted her umbrella spear into the ground, staking her claim, and then ran to the water over the sizzling silicon dioxide and cooled off her tootsies before diving into the high tide.  She was almost immediately whistled in by the lifeguards as her enthusiasm carried her past the buoys and into the dolphin freeway – several pod members ran her over in the confusion and one offered her a ride back to shore.
            She flew in from the ocean with steam rising off of her as the water evaporated instantly from her skin.  Looking around, she saw that nearly everyone else on the beach remained in their shaded zones: even the lifeguards had retreated from their high chairs and were watching whichever swimmers were actually out there from the safety of their overturned rowboats.
            She returned to her homestead blanket, where the shade had moved just enough so the whole setup had to be repositioned.  Just as she arrayed herself with the requisite beach read and with her towel covering enough so she would not need to reapply sunscreen, a low roar steadily grew louder from the direction of the parking lot.  She looked to that side in time to see about 150 children arriving with their adults, who herded them to the only places left on the beach to plant their roots.
            “No one told me this was Camp Day,” she muttered to no one.  She tried to continue reading but could not concentrate with the new background noise of enthusiastic youth that had been introduced to the environment.  She gave up when they were guided to the waves in rotating groups – the ones left behind were just too happy for her ears to bear, so she left them to their joy and relocated herself back to her car.
            The air conditioning broke down on the drive home, she was trapped at a drawbridge for 20 minutes, and her sunburned cheeks already were peeling, but they all were worth it: she viewed them as reminders that she was not at that moment freezing in the single-digit temperature and 10-inch snowdrifts that awaited her in six months.