The Tide

I walk with purpose toward the endless horizon before me. On my left and my right, the waves lap gently against the shore. The clay beneath my feet is dry and cracked. It’s been a long time since the last tide, but I can see the shoreline disappearing.

The waves close in on me from either side, I can feel them splash against my legs–left, then right, then left. The water is eager to flood the land after so long an absence, the tide comes quicker than normal, with more force. I keep walking, the clay beginning to soak up the water, the cracks start to disappear, the surface becomes slick. I hope that it will be a short and merciful tide.

Soon the waves are crashing up to my knees. On every step the water sucks at my foot and then seems to part as I put it back down. It is reluctant to let any part of me go, and eager to accept me back.

Any hope that the tide would be gentle is gone as the waves disappear, replaced by stillness and quiet. The only sound now is my splashing as I fight my way forward through the waist-high water. I push my legs through, my feet getting little purchase on the slick clay, the water dragging at me, wordlessly telling me to stop, to abandon my quest for dry land, to leave the tide behind.

The water is up to my neck now. I can’t tell if the tide is still coming in, or if I am wandering off my narrow strip of safety. My only connection to the land now are my toes, which I vainly use to keep moving forward. It is very tempting to lay back and allow myself to float. But I fear being swept out to sea and never finding my way back at all.

I am not ready to give up yet, so the only thing I can do is keep going. And hope. Hope that this will not be the time that the water swallows me completely.

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