An Awfully Permissive Audience

I’m standing on the edge of a shore, a can of cold beer in one palm and a handful of sand in the other.

To my left, there is a dock, showing subtle signs of decay through its faint layer of moss at the front, the worn corners of the wood standing in the ocean.

To my right, I see a flat, open expanse of grey coastline. Everything’s grey today, and the sand feels cold under my feet.

There’s no life on the beach, I’ve noticed. It’s most likely that everyone is huddled in their homes, clutching their loved ones as they live out their final moments together. What an awfully morbid thought. Even the gulls have decided to cherish these last minutes. Do they understand? The change in pressure, the sounds?

Oh— maybe it’s this view!

I’ve forgotten to mention the most beautiful part.

In front of me, she looms above with an omnipotence paralleled to none. 150 feet high, spanning out across the horizon, her shadow has swallowed me whole, enveloping me in cold darkness.

I feel like she’s smiling. An eerie, all-knowing smile. Like she knows what she’s doing.

Can tidal waves smile? Probably not.

I mean, after I found out the news, I didn’t even think to go home. Home is miles away, on the other side of the island. I would never get there on time. I figured I might as well get my issues out in front of nature’s prettiest monster yet.

“I think the first time I felt like a bad person was third grade. I was standing at the top of the stairs, at 8 in the morning, eager to get to school. My mother asked me if I had brushed my teeth. And as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I did not in fact brush my teeth that morning. I still lied to her face though, looking straight into those knowing eyes. ‘Yes, of course I have!’ So yeah, Wave. That’s the first time I felt like a bad person.”

“And you want to know the last time I felt like a bad person? Last night, when I forgot to feed the cats. It was an hour and a half past their dinnertime, and there I was, upstairs on my sixth episode of Game of Thrones that day as though I had nothing better to do. Well, the cats are better than re-watching the same show for the third time. I can’t believe I let them down like that.”

God. When I say it out loud I realize I haven’t changed.

I think we all like to believe we’re these beings in constant motion, that we always change, and that before we know it, the only thing that remains from childhood is our memories.

My issues are still dumb. The things that make me feel like a bad person aren’t earth-shattering. They never were and never will be. Well, obviously they never will be, because, you know,

I’m about to die.


Anyway, I think I just needed to work that out. Today hasn’t really changed anything. It’s just this beautiful wave staring me right in the face that’s got me wondering if there was ever a spark of something more in that creeping, empty chasm.

Before today, I was just a grey form, floating through life like a buoy on open water, making small waves but not enough to reach the shore. I’ve been fooling myself all this time, whispering sweet nothings into my own ear, trying to avoid the inevitable.

The whooshing in my ears is getting louder. The wind is whipping my hair in my face, stinging the tip of my nose and my lips.

She’s getting awfully close.

I crush the can I’ve emptied in between confessions, gripping it so hard I feel the skin breaking around the razor-thin edges.

The sand pours out of my hand in a steady, controlled stream, cool and finely ground by the wind.

The sensations make me close my eyes. I take one breath. Two breaths. Then I step forward.