Picture it and Write: The Beach

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week”s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only used it for information. In other news, there is a picture it and write publication now for sale both in e-book and paperback. It includes the work of 23 authors from around the world, including yours truly. If you like this, buy that. Anyway, Enjoy.

The Beach

Eliza was fifteen when her life ended. He mother was barely gone a month when her father, in a completely selfish act, announced that he had quit his job, put their amazing downtown penthouse on the market and they were going to move out to some godforsaken rock off the coast.

Why he was doing this to her, Eliza could not fathom. He claimed that he wanted to be a writer and that island life would be more “inspiring” but what could be inspiring about some bare rocks, dirty sheep, and even dirtier locals she could not even begin to understand.

He had been like this before, obsessed with finding his “muse” but her mother had been able to keep it in check. Now; well, nothing was there to stop him. And Eliza was dragged, almost literally kicking and screaming along too.

Her father spent the latter part of the journey trying to show her the natural wonders of her new home. The rugged landscape and harsh beauty left little mark on Eliza, all she could see was what wasn’t there. There were no shops, no cafés, no cinemas, hardly any people at all. What was she supposed to do here?

She even watched with growing horror as the bars on her cell-phone, her umbilical link with her former life, hovered on the edge of nothing. Her mind was a seething pit of desperation that would periodically erupt into “Why are you doing this to me? I hate you!” at even her father’s most innocent questions. The mood in the car was tense.

Their new home had a rustic charm that even Eliza would be prepared to admit, would make a fabulous vacation spot “But never!” she was vehemently quick to add, “Would I want to live here permanently!”

After their inaugural fight in their new home. Eliza’s father decided to take her and explore their new surroundings. He had visited here many times before Eliza had been born, several time with her mother’ and was pleasantly surprised to find that the place had not changed too much in the twenty-odd years since his last visit. He said it was “timeless”, she said “hopelessly outdated”.

As they walked too and fro Eliza’s heart sank even further. There was literally nothing for her. There was a bar, that she couldn’t go to, a diner that seemed to her you could get food poisoning just from looking at and a grocery come hardware store, a one-stop-shop her father joked, where they were currently headed.

Inside the rickety door. Eliza found the living cliché she expected. The shop was filled with everything and anything from jars of candy to bottles of sheep dip. There was so much to take in that it was almost a full minute before she noticed him.

Eliza was a sophisticated city girl, she had practically waded in a sea of eligible young men all her life. But this guy was something special, she would later swear to her old friends that if he had been from the city he would already be a model or in a boy band or something. He was gorgeous. She wished she had put a dress on, or at least some make-up and she saw that, Oh My God her father was talking to him.

Eliza tried to stay aloof, not directly looking or listening so she missed most of what was said but she was able to catch him call an older man from a back office who warmly greeted her father and then she caught him lifting the counter, stepping out onto the shop floor and Oh God Oh God was making his way to her.

She almost stumbled when he said “Eliza is it? My name is Billy. I hear you’re new here.”

They talked for only five minutes but to Eliza it felt longer. Billy’s father and hers were old friends and used to hang about all the time. There wasn’t that much to do inside around here he had told her. But if she was interested himself and a few friends were going to meet on the beach that evening and shoot the breeze until nightfall. She could feel her face redden as she agreed instantly and she swore that her father would pay after she caught him wink at her out of the corner of her eye.

The rest of the afternoon went like a dream for Eliza, she tried on every dress she had before settling on a floral summer dress which showed off everything she had. Her father took one look and said “You’re not going to the beach like that.” There storm clouds were about to break open when he defused it by adding “It will be much too cold for a summer dress down there. Trust me on this, if you wore that they’ll think you’re an idiot.”

At the appointed time, Eliza was waiting on the porch in jeans and a light jacket. Billy pulled up in a dented white pickup truck and beckoned her in. There were three other people in the truck, all girls. Eliza waited for the dreaded “And this is my Girlfriend” axe to drop but Sharon, Abby and Jean were his sister and cousins respectively and Eliza could breathe easy.

They talked a bit as they made their way out of town towards the sweeping curve of the sand. Billy was the oldest of the four, just shy of eighteen. He was planning on going to college the next year, provided his grades held up, and study biology ” I want to know what’s out there” He said, gesturing out towards the blue sea. The rest had similar aspirations; engineering, medicine, agriculture. They were of a decidedly more practical bent than many of Eliza’s former peers.

There were another four cars already on the beach when they arrived, parked in a circle around a small mound of driftwood. There was a breeze and it was cold but thanks to the jacket not uncomfortably so. Billy greeted the rest of his friends and there was another round of introductions. Once again no girlfriend, Eliza noted, but plenty of tanned athletic girls who all looked like they could get any man they wanted. She wanted to feel uncomfortable but there was such a friendliness in everyone’s greeting that all thoughts of rivalry faded fast.

Billy and another guy hefted a cooler out of the pickup while Sharon used a firelighter on the drift wood. The cooler was packed with ice and bottles of both beer and soda. Eliza was unsure which to take and looked imploringly at Billy who laughed saying “Not a big fan of it myself” and took a soda. She did too.

They sat on the hoods of the cars or on larger pieces of drift wood as the flames made its way through the woodpile. The conversation was varied. They talked about local things, who was with who, about the world and what they hoped to make out of it, and about Eliza, who they questioned in some detail.

In that respect she was pleasantly surprised by her new friends. They weren’t quite as unsophisticated as she would have originally believed. They did have gaps in their knowledge, but that was only understandable, and certainly forgivable.

The evening sky drew dark and in unspoken agreement they all huddled closer to the fire. The stars were visible in the sky and Eliza could feel her eyes being drawn up. She has never seen so many in the city, it was spectacular. But her revelry was interrupted by Jean who had been staring out towards the waves. “Ok guys! It’s starting.”

Like everyone else Eliza turned towards the sea but she was not expected what everyone else supposedly knew what was happening. All along the beach, where the water hit the sand the waves had taken on a ghostly glow. It was like the water was on fire. It was truly beautiful.

As one, everyone started to walk towards the surf line. As she approached Eliza noted the ghostly glow condense into thousands and thousands of little creatures, some writhing and others motionless, shifting in the gentle waves.

“They’re squid.” Billy said standing beside her. “They come here from all over the world for only a few nights of the year. They come to lay their eggs in the shallows and then they die. The glow is their bioluminescence. Usually they can control it but when they’re dead or dying it just keeps glowing until it eventually fades, some scientists think it is for communication, others that it helps them find food. No one really knows.”

He dipped a hand into the surf and pulled up some of the glowing cephalopods and squeezed and little and then dropped them again. Some of the glowing liquid stayed on his hand, trickling down the back of his wrist. Eliza was so transfixed that didn’t notice that the rest had actually gotten into the surf zone and were playing with the massed bodies. Throwing them around like liquid light.

“We do this every year.” Billy said extending a hand still faintly glowing. “Then as soon as this is done, nature sends us some other wonder. I couldn’t tell you at first what would happen, you wouldn’t believe me. But you’ll soon learn.”

Eliza looked at Billy, at all of the others playing in the phosphorescent surf, at the brilliant stars above, and even at the driftwood fire blazing behind them.

There may not be many, shops, cinemas or the other trappings of civilization in her new home but with wonders like this would she really miss them?