Sitting on a park bench overlooking the bay, I pretend I’m somewhere tropical. The eighty degree temperature plays along, but the cool breeze whipping my hair into a frenzy betrays the fantasy. I put on my jacket.

A barefooted walker slips by, only noticeable by her flip-flopped companion. 

The sun has settled beneath the horizon, the pink tints have all been leeched away from the clouds. The open water is left in inky darkness. There’s nothing tropical about this place now.

Families pack their children into car seats. Headlights flood the streets.

The tree branches wrestle with the wind, showering the road with little leaves and brittle branches. Rain is coming, but I can’t smell it yet. 

A family traipses past me, daring to step foot in the brisk, dark water. The three stand there at the water’s edge as their dog leads the way charging in. The boy follows, a quick intake of breath tells me he’s going against his body’s wishes into the cold water. His parents stay on shore, shoulder to shoulder, until dad gives in. He takes four giant leaps then dives under the water. He comes up shaking the water off his head like the dog in the shallows. Mom waits patiently in the cooling sand, a glorified towel rack. The boys stagger out of the water and they all head back to the car, dripping as they go. It was just a quick late night trip to the lake, they leave refreshed. 

The only thing illuminated on the shore is a solitary birch tree. It’s been singled out by a street lamp, its white bark a beacon on the beach.  

“Waiting for the bus stop. Waiting for the concrete black top to settle down. Long enough for me to get off and get a little ground. I’m ready for the sea change. Helpless,  felt this coming from a mile away.”

–Sara Bareilles


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