Seagulls flapped around the trash can. They banged their big wings against the metal drum, their beaks raging against an unopened bag of Doritios. Steven took his keys out of his shorts and put them in the little pocket of his backpack. This was the spot the Earth succumbed to the sea. A great blending of the elements. Of attraction… us to oblivion. This is where what Man built becomes irrelevant.
Steven leaned back on the towel and wiggled his body into the sand, keeping his knees bent and his back flat so his legs formed a little lean-to.
He then spoke to his girlfriend by speaking directly into the air “There’s an oyster bake at Ken Richardson’s place tonight,” he announced into the distribution of air particles.
Chelsea finished watching a Snapchat video before turning toward Steven. There were invisible waves everywhere. She asked, “Do you like this bikini,” forgetting his question, but shaking her shoulders in a lackadaisical and sexy way that made him feel powerful. She was 23 and beautiful and he had no idea how fast it goes.
The bikini was hideous. Steven told her he liked the bikini even though he didn’t. It’s just so much easier to lie sometimes. It was white with a solid black stripe that made it look like her nipples were being censored. But her skin was covered with a blond down that made her nearly naked body shine in the Hampton light, so he didn’t really look at her bikini, anyway.
There were filters for everything.
She adjusted her top so her breasts oscillated in a way that hypnotized him. She caught him staring and laughed. For a second he felt like sucking his thumb.
He was stoned. Everything was glazed and magnified. There was four hundred dollars in his pocket. His timepiece was hand built by a 77 year-old Swiss watchmaker who never drove in his life.
There was an expensive tattoo of a birdhouse on her right shoulder done by a Japanese artist in New York. Her sandals were woven Cambodian balsa wood. The sun covered her body with delicate needles of light.
“Don’t do anything for a moment,” he told her, motioning for her to put her phone down. Then he tilted his head back and squinted at the faint and feckless sky. “It’s so beautiful,” he said, taking off his glasses.
Chelsea set her phone down on the blanket where it sunk into the folds, and turned her cinnamon freckles up to the cloudless sky in a graceful manner that seemed to stop time. The sun obliterated all depth from the sky. It was like looking at a piece of blue paper. Like that brilliant flash right when your computer wakes up. Only their physical bodies mattered in this picture.
Side by side, their flesh glistened in perfect symmetry, like an optical illusion, and it was all completely intentional, this photogenic pose. Chelsea and Steven. Their thing was being perfect together.
Exceptional in an one-dimensional way.
There’s was a carefully curated universe.
“Can you hear that?” Steven asked, shielding his eyes to scour the sky for the source of a cranking hum that slowly gained in frequency and decibel. A sort of dream-wobble approaching… a churning of of molecules that filled their eardrums with oatmeal.
They both looked and listened and wondered.
“Is it a plane?” She asked.
It was a plane. They spotted it at the same time, flying really slowly, dragging a banner advertising the price of Gino’s on the Beach’s World Famous pepperoni slice. Steven has been there before, one time, before Chelsea. It came toward them up the shoreline. The way it flew didn’t seem plausible. It was only thirty feet above the water and seemed to be barely going thirty miles an hour. It chugged along and Steven fantasized about jumping up and grabbing the banner and yanking the plane down with it, but since they’re so close to the water, they’d land all gently and everybody would be alright and they’d all share a tremendous laugh about it.
He’d have drinks later with the survivors.
Chelsea looked over and shrugged. “Where’s my phone?” She asked, raking the blanket for it. Steven watched with a dull desire a hot day like today brings out. Once she found it again, she said, “Smile,” then cocked her phone at him and snapped his picture. Giggling, she called him handsome. The day shed another coat of paint.
Chelsea held the photo for him to see but he couldn’t make out anything out in the glare. It’s all a blur anyway.
It didn’t matter.
Later tonight there was an oyster party at the Randolph’s place on the beach. It was supposed to be just as beautiful tomorrow. There was always something to do. Steven thought about the time he was at Gino’s, there was woman in line whose purse was made of fake leopard fur. There was a fly on the red pepper shaker.
He looked out at the sea and the whitecaps and the thought of pizza stirred a numbness that had settled at the bottom of his soul.
The grease and those paper plates and especially the tourist types hanging around.
The gross devouring.
The idea of it all made him melancholy.
Yet, he didn’t know why, he was just glad he wasn’t one of them.