The story begins. Becky stood on the sand, listening to the edges of the ocean; to the lap and scatter of small, seaweed-laden waves. She’d hoped the sudden change in environment would loosen the choking, unremitting clench of her life. Therapy wasn’t going well. Her counselor suggested this trip. She said that getting close to the ocean would improve her mood and put things in perspective. Something about the ocean’s vast majesty and finding her simple little niche in the universe.
It wasn’t working. What’s the big deal about the ocean?
She looked out at the faded gray horizon. Maybe if she saw something dramatic. Maybe if she saw a whale, it would fix things. Quickly, No, one whale would not instill sufficient awe. She needed a herd of whales (did they travel in herds? or schools? Whatever...). She needed to see a mass suicide of whales – fearsome giants beaching themselves right before her astonished eyes. An advancing mass. And she would walk among the flopping, encrusted behemoths - sperm whales or blue whales, the biggest the sea can provide - and she would listen to their dying cries and feel so overwhelmed that her meager little life would take on a new context; her small concerns would float away with the mournful death-songs of the failing whales.
Or maybe an oil spill. Maybe a huge tanker could run aground and spill black poison into the water. A wide, oil slick would eat into the beach, engulfing birds and seals and naked bathers. Dying animals would wash ashore, gasping and struggling, mired in the sticky, ink-black pollution and she would witness an extinction. She needed to be a part of something.
Or what if a dead body washed up on shore? Maybe a man with unrelieved sorrow will walk out into the water and drown himself. Or, no wait, he stands on a rock outcropping. He has a gun. He utters his last words to the wind; a brief suicide note instantly erased. Then he blasts his memories into the churning sea.
Becky let her thoughts drift with the sounds of the shoreline, scattering into the wind and the whispering words of the surf.
She did feel a little better after all. The story ends.