Setting: Sweater Weather

Chase walked up and over the sandy hill and made his way to the shoreline. He had lived here his whole life—he’d practically been baptized in salt water—but, to be honest, he wasn’t a fan of the beach. The sand between his toes, the spray of the sea, the burning sun, it didn’t delight him the way it seemed to delight all the tourists who swarmed here every summer. Chase looked back at the weather-beaten boardwalk, the one Gemma made him take a million pictures of. Closed down shacks and tourist shops haunted the horizon. Chase let the wind seep into his sweater and bite at his skin. He let his eyes follow the dirty blonde sand until the beach hooked around. At the edge he could see the stacks of the old power plant, just as bare and left-behind as the boardwalk.

He listened to the crash of the waves behind him and the screeching gulls overhead. They reminded him of flying rats. They circled above begging for a scrap of anything and if you took pity on them, decided it wouldn’t be so bad to feed these mongrels then they took everything.

The foam rushed toward his feet and he stepped back; that’s when he spotted the ridges of a shell, half buried in the wet sand. His fingers reached for the worn shell and let the freezing water wash away the debris. Holding it he pictured Gemma here, laughing at the heart he had drawn in the sand, teasing him about his “artwork”. He clenched his fist around the pink shell and hissed as the edges broke skin. It hadn’t seemed that sharp. He threw the shell back into the sea and watched it fall, watched it sink back into the ocean.

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