Careless (Flash Fiction)

Distant light kisses a dark horizon and leaves its cheeks flush with a pink hue. Slowly, color floods into a cloudless sky. Another day begins anew. And down below, beneath stars winking away and hiding from the light, a stretch of sand endures wave after wave from a relentless sea.

With the day comes warmth, and with that warmth comes life and love and laughter. Children burst onto the cherished shore to play and laugh and scream. They make a game of running from the surging water, to never let their toes be touched by the crashing sea, but the waves care not for either loss or victory. A child beyond reach is no different than one fallen and temporarily swallowed. The waves simply stretch and retract, careless of the joy they bring.

The day continues, the sun peaks, and two lovers stroll along the sand with fingers entangled and hearts aching in the early afternoon. Together, they whisper harmless wishes and lofty dreams. They plot out their lives, navigating potential pitfalls and difficulties. They dream of the joy their joining lives can bring and cling to coming memories. And behind them, their steps, so delicately woven with love and care, are brushed aside by the thoughtless sea. Hope is casually washed away. History immediately erased. As their hearts beat with love, so the ocean pulses across their shared walk without remorse.

A broken man drags feet heavier than the urn in his hands and releases ashes into insatiable waters, his gesture turned empty, his ceremony muted by crashing waves. Compared to the massive body of water, his tears feel insignificant. Beside the enormity of it all, his mourning is stripped of meaning.

In the evening, a girl shares her first cigarette with a boy she’s unsure she can trust, and as she begs for any kind of direction, the noisy waves offer no counsel. She bundles her sweater tighter, takes another drag, and wonders if anything in life ever really matters. As if in a constant shrug, the sea haphazardly agrees.

And night falls, and stars appear only to succumb to daylight again.

And days fold into weeks.

And soon the summer fades.

Snow falls and ice forms, and still the churning sea does not cease. Still, it grinds sand against sand and assaults failing bluffs and pounds with great fury when empowered by storm winds.

And when war finds the beloved shoreline, the restless ocean gives dying young men no quarter. As fire and metal rips through their bodies, so does the ocean consume their remains with heartless passivity. And as their tags are swallowed and their bodies lost, still the sea offers no loving embrace. Cold waves bring only flooded lungs and an offering of dead fish to imply a possibility of sympathy. And when bulky planes fly over in revenge, their bombs screaming toward strategic targets, so does the sea scream with countless waves, unmoved by the horrible atrocities, unconcerned with the blood it has swallowed, unchanged by the absence of joy it used to bring.

Months become years, and somehow peace is reached. Somehow, despite the sorrow and destruction, people creep out from hiding and rediscover their lost beach and forgotten smiles. Children, now fed and safe, roam once again. Lost friends come together. Loved ones are remembered. Life continues. Struggle resumes.

And still, the restless sea simply cannot care.

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