Stare Down the Ocean

430 words – Sometimes you can’t change anything, but you so desperately wish you could.

There she is. Standing at the shore. I knew she would be here. She stares at the ocean when she’s troubled. I always thought it had something to do with the soothing sound of the waves, but there’s a storm brewing on the horizons. There is no peace in the ocean today. I can’t help but wonder how many other storms she’s weathered just to stare at this big body of water.

Even though I came here looking for her, I feel utterly apprehensive at the idea of actually speaking to her. My hands are shaking. I clench them into fists. I want to blame the shakes on the roaring wind, but I can’t. Why am I scared? She’s the one who’s dying. I don’t have any right to be scared.

“I know you’re there,” she shouts over the wind. Shit. Of course she does. I’ve never known how she’s so utterly perceptive. I thought maybe the wind would drown out the sound of my car if I drove up quietly enough. Guess not.

I walk next to her, hopping the short metal sheet between the road and the beach. “Yeah. I’m here,” I say.

We stand together, silently staring at turbulent seas. After some time of this, I speak up. “What are you doing here?” I turn my head to look at her.

She doesn’t look back. “I’m staring down the ocean.” Okay. That doesn’t make sense.

“Staring down the ocean. Like, intimidating it.” It didn’t really make sense to me. You can’t stare down the ocean. It doesn’t care about the whims of us humans.

“When I was young, I convinced myself that I could stare at the ocean, angrily, and it would settle down during a storm. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. I didn’t know much about how weather worked when I was a tot.”

I laughed, briskly. They continued. “I know I can’t actually stop the ocean from being enraged, but I thought maybe for a moment I could. Maybe if I just stared hard enough, the endless water might bend to my will. The waves will stop beating on the shores. I’ll see some peace.”

“Yeah,” I say.

“Still, staring at the ocean is comforting. Seeing it in the same state that I’m in feels more legitimate than anything. No one has ever understood what it means to be angry with me. No one but the ocean.”

“Oh. Oh,” I say.

We stand on the shore. We say no words. She’s trying to stare down the ocean. I’m trying to stare down the ocean.

Author: Kay Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site

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