We were to meet at eight. I assumed a.m. but maybe it was p.m. Finding myself alone on the beach, with slate sky and squid ink water, I counted white-capped waves until I got to 547, then wandered off from our rendezvous point, snail’s pace, walking in the foaming surf with my sandals left on the beach.
I wandered down the smooth sand, leaving a crooked path of water-filled steps. I was no longer sure we really had said morning. I began to suspect myself of intrigue.
Evidence: I went to the wrong restaurant to meet him just last week. I knew it was the wrong one, but I went anyway. Evidence: I wore my hair in a low ponytail to the beach rendezvous, a style he loathes. Conclusion: I am a saboteur.
I stepped around a jellyfish that had washed onto the beach. It stretched itself so thin I could almost see through it. It distorted the sand with its body, and yet the distortion made it more beautiful. They thrive, I’ve read, in warming, oxygen-depleted, acidified oceans. How fortunate is a jellyfish to benefit from climate change.
I was in water to my knees when I looked back and saw him, standing alone on the beach at our rendezvous point. He had his back to me, or I think he did. I walked into the swell of the next wave and the one after that, counting backward from 547, because that’s what we do, we hysterical young brides, with rocks in our pockets. I kept walking into the water, and it flowed into me, through me, spreading my white broomstick skirt around me like a bell, like a pulsating, jellyfish bell.
There are women, they say, who have seal skins they shed when they want to live on land. They reclaim the skins when they want to return to the sea, when they want to leave the world of men. I had no seal-skin but into the water I went, permeable, tentacled.
About the author: Epiphany Ferrell writes most of her fiction in Southern Illinois at Resurrection Mule Farm, so-named after a mule survived a lightning strike there. She received a Pushcart nomination in 2018, and her stories appear recently in The Slag Review, Blue Fifth Review and Pulp Literature, and she blogs intermittently at Ghost Parachute. She is a reader for Mojave River Review and New Flash Fiction Review.