As she drew closer she could see the line of a river bisecting the beach into
seemingly endless rows of stone-faced rock that looked like they were
relics of a prehistoric civilization that had been frozen in time like a
lurid post card long ago. The water was choppy and the air stank of the
fresh, fecund ocean. It was a wonder that she had even set foot on this
treacherous watery land in the first place.
Beth paused beside an island, the water reflecting the moonlight like a
rushing waterfall streaked with luminescent silver and pink. The water at
this high water mark was calm and the breeze was cold. A lone figure stood
swaying on the shore, looking out over the vast expanse of the sea. The
figure stood poised, a thin silhouette against the night sky as if trying to
make contact with her. The air shimmered with an ethereal phosphorescence
that was only visible when the moon was out.
No sooner had Beth recognized the figure than a wave crashed over the
landing, drenching the slender figure with a cold spray of night rain.
“You must be Beth,” he shouted as if to a stranger, “And who might you be?”
Beth felt herself smile into the night, the raindrops falling like fire
stars as they struck her upturned face, stinging her eyes the color of
strawberries and tangling in her long, honey-colored hair.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” Beth shouted out.
“Well, I’m not getting wet anymore, thanks! Please come in and dry off.
What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”
Beth was about to answer as the figure continued to stare out over the
water, his eyes narrowing as if looking out through his closed eyelids.
Suddenly, Beth remembered the strange feeling that she was being watched.
It was like someone was holding something in front of her face, peering down
at her, like she was standing on a stage, being tested. She suddenly felt
paralyzed, her pulse racing and her palms moist with sweat. The feeling of
being watched passed like a wave over her and left her breathless, her
whole body trembling as if she were caught in a whirlwind vortex. She was
paralyzed. She could have sworn that the figure was staring right into her
A sudden gust of wind sent sand cascading from the beach. Beth closed her
eyes and leaned back against the warm rock, letting the storm wash through
her body and settle the questions that remained, questions that she could
never ask in the safety of her home.
“You want to know what I’m doing out here?” Beth shouted out when she
realized that she could still hear her words. “What are you doing out here in
the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night? Are you really a ghost?
Did I catch a glimpse of a past life on your face? Why are you here?”
The figure laughed nervously, “Well that is an interesting question.”
Beth thought on what she had told her friend the night before. Had she had
any other life experiences on earth? Did she have any other life
experiences apart from the ones that she told her mother about? Was she
afraid that this might be the life that she was meant to have? This was
where her life was now. She had no other options.
Beth said, “Are you the ghost that I heard you talking about a couple nights
The figure shrugged, “No, I’m not a ghost. I’m just a curious fellow.”
“What brought you to this desolate place?”
The figure shrugged again, “I just wandered through and decided to walk
the beach until I saw where my bed was, if I could find it.” He laughed
hardily for a moment, “I’m not really a walking man!”
Beth realized that it would probably be wise to change the subject. She
asked him where he was from and what he wanted to do. He said that he just
happened to be in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck and hadn’t gone
home yet. He then began to talk about his life which took a long time, but
he was a talkative fellow, telling stories that Beth couldn’t understand.
She finally gave in and asked about his children. He said that he had
five, ages 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, and his wife was due soon after his last
child. He was a very private man who was always on the go, and she was
afraid that he might disappear without a trace like a ghost.
“You have never seen them?” she asked when he made no response.
“Well I haven’t seen them in a long time, but I sure haven’t lost two
dollars’ worth of sleep over that.”
Beth was confused and started to say something about a life time, but the
figure held up his hand and stopped her.
“Hey, no offense, but maybe you don’t have to know everything. I think this
is a beautiful night, and the rain and the storm will put you to sleep in
Beth looked out over the water. She was suddenly very aware that she was
in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and had no idea where she was. She
could feel waves crashing against the shore and the cold, salty wind
breathing in her face. It was a strange feeling, to have no idea where she
was or how she got here. She wondered if she was dreaming, and if so, why
was she here? She suddenly felt like a child, the only person standing on
the beach and alone.
“I’m going to go back up the beach and get a drink,” Beth replied. She
wondered if she could make it to the beach house before she fell asleep, but
she felt sure that it was too late for that now. She tried to walk away, but
the figure stopped her.
“Hey Beth, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you for some time,”
“What is it?”
“I used to own a small farm out in the country,” he said as if he hadn’t
yet realized that he was standing on the beach. “Back in the 1970’s, before
the last hurricane, I bought a small piece of land near a little lake on
the outskirts of the town for $700. It was barely above water and was
covered in pine trees, a few acres deep. I just built a fence and I thought
that in a few days or a week I would have a farm.