An Afternoon Glimpse (Flash Fiction)

Bob slammed on the brakes. The steering wheel tore from his hand as the tires bit into the asphalt. The collision sent the car into a roll. The windshield shattered and the side windows exploded in. Grinding metal replaced the sound of screeching tires.

Bob caught a glimpse through his driver-side as the car entered its second flip. That morning, as they had made their way down the Pacific Coast Highway, the fog and sun engaged in a bout of hide and seek. Moments of clarity would cut across the horizon when the fog would relent. But then, as they rounded another turn, the fog pushed itself back in. The sun would return to a daytime moon lurking in the mist.

During his glimpse, that brief instant, the sun shone true. Bob saw the ocean peel away in perfect blue. The morning overcast was clearly on permanent retreat, and a perfect day was on the way. He could see the state beach in the distance. So close, he thought. My god, we were so close. The sands were lightly dotted with people, and the parking lot was empty. A couple jogged their way along the shoreline as their dog, what looked to be a collie, pranced with its fur stirring in the wind. He could smell the salt in the air, clean and fresh and close to his tongue.

Time stopped. He saw himself playing with his son. Their yellow dump truck hauled away load after load from their growing castle. His son took to building a defensive seawall while Bob fought with towering, drying sands. His wife happily read her book. She paused now and then to pass around chips and sandwiches. His daughter stayed plugged into her iPod in a vain attempt to look bored, but she quickly joined her brother when water tore down the first wall. They scrambled and laughed together as the sea sent wave after relentless wave against their sandy fortifications. Even Mom gave helping hands. In the end, it was for not. The ocean, the eternal victor, won out yet again. The castle was lost. They rallied around each other with an afternoon walk. Pelicans flew inches above the glistening waves as Bob and his wife held hands. A fit of splashing broke out between the children. For a younger brother going against a teenage sister, it was a battle easily won.

So close, he thought. What a perfect day.

The car completed the second roll. The cabin caved in and all went black and silent.

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