I tiptoed over the smooth, gleaming rocks. Trampled over velvety sand, and bounded over mangled, knobby driftwood, in search of fishing hooks or wire. My family roamed and meandered with me, chattering as they went, over the pebbles that made up the tranquil Grecian beach. Salty waves lapped at the sandy shore, and sea spray lingered in the air, so I slowed for a moment to watch the serene, glassy, tac-i-turn water.
Another family arrived soon enough, our friends that had invited us octopi wrangling. Recognizing we lacked supplies, we had been combing the summer shoreline for stray hooks or clear fishing wire. In despair, I shrugged my shoulders and nonchalantly waited about as the midsummer breeze ruffled my hair. What surprised me was when they replied, “No need for equipment, our hands are all that is necessary.” I could only wonder what they meant.
Minutes later, everyone was peering into the deep aqua water. We were all eager to catch a glimpse of an octopus desperately clinging to a stone, only to be seized right out of the ocean. Octopi change color to camouflage with their bleak stone surroundings, so we gazed incredibly close to recognize one, if luck was in our favor.
“Look, look!” I bellowed excitedly. I distinguished a figure under the flawlessly clear sea. Abruptly, someone waded into the water and fearlessly plucked it right of the coral, as easy as if they had just been gathering sea shells on this very beach. Sure enough, a miniature octopus was dangling from a grasping hand.
This beautiful marine creature, the common octopus, seemed so desperate and misplaced out of the ocean. The flailing, curling arms reminded me of a helpless child, and I knew I did not have it in me to kill it myself. To my extreme relief, this one was too small to cook, and its life was spared with a swift splash as it was tossed carelessly back into the gentle sea. My body relaxed and a deep sigh escaped me, a life had been saved.
aging, towering, rustling
bark, branches, petals, blooms
fluttering, swooning, quivering
The swirling clouds laced themselves across the night sky with the intention of dragging stars and planets behind it. A gaping hole at the center, the eye, pitched and deformed with the raging currents of a natural calamity. This was a storm, but not like any other I had ever seen.
It took much self-motivation to scurry up the sand dunes from house to beach, and witness the sight unfolding before me. Rain like pins and needles struck my arms and face, soaking me down to the bone. Angry wind tore at my pajamas, whipping my hair and whining in my ears. The only thing that brought any comfort was the dark, which bundled me in a soothing layer of blackness.
What seemed like an eternity of me gradually sinking in the sand, staring dumbfounded at the sky, was only a few moments. The gales hardly ebbed, and while each surge was more capricious than the last, I gained a natural understanding of when I must brace myself against each gust. With every rotation of this giant typhoon, tempest winds grew stronger, and I struggled to keep from blowing away.
Suddenly, something nestled my shoulders, though only for an instant was I startled, because the jacket was warm and dry. I spun around to see my dad, now missing a coat and shivering. I also began to notice neighbors amassing on the beach, gathering to experience the mesmerizing sensation I had first felt.
Dazzling stars rippled across the sky, sprinkled randomly, intertwining with the many storm clouds. I wanted to chase the scene, but not chase it away. I admired its dazzling wildness, and it filled me with a burning, crazed energy. This energy slowly swelled inside me, starting from the soles of my sandy feet, to the tips of my untamed winding hair.
“Beautiful, isn’t it,” whispered a voice, carried with the thunderous wind currents.
A muted, “Yeah,” was the only word I could manage to reply. But of course, a simple “yeah” didn’t cover it. “Beautiful” was an understatement, and the term I would use to describe this kind of moment might be more like “inspiring”; Inspiring me to write a story like no other, a story like the storm.
Music engulfs me in lyrical flames. With each crackle a new melody, I hear the fire popping everywhere. In the streets, on every city block, inferno always absorbs me. Whenever I’m low, the heat of the burn smolders any misery and leaves me crazed for its warmth; warmth so painful, but I couldn’t live without it all the same. There are many innocent woes, pleasant as they flicker across my face but violent when I decide to feel them, only adding to my tears. What bitter-sweet blazes tease my ears and tickle my heart with their meager melodies? The incandescence of a lost soul, shining when no one was there to feed her flames.
I got myself hyped, nervous, and pulsing with energy. The gym teachers had us right where they wanted us, lined up neatly, side-by-side, awaiting the sound of a starting whistle. Phys. Ed. races were nothing serious, but my reputation as a runner wasn’t going downhill because of one stupid race, so I was determined to sprint across the finish line while the others remained, flushed and and out of breath, behind me. With each passing moment, my heart pumped even faster, until I could hardly contain my craze. Joltingly, the brazen blow of the whistle signaled to my legs. Rubber track on my shoes never felt so resilient as I sprung into motion. Thank god for my spindly-long legs, my hyperactivity, and my stubborn determination, or I may not have been so far ahead of everyone else. Running was like an art to me, I was good at it, and there were techniques to master it. My main technique: win. Though I won so many races before this, the gurgle of the teacher’s barking voice, “First,” as he pointed to me, never made me feel so alive.
Out in the cold, the wind is the only thing that moves me. It gently ruffles my hair, adds red to my ashen cheeks, and playfully swirls fallen leaves around me. Before autumn, my breath was an invisible miracle, a thing that kept me living. Now, whenever I let my body heave a simple sigh, a cloud of steam curls up from my mouth, and it is the wind’s job to carry it from sight. The crunchy leaves remain sprinkled across the sidewalk ahead, and spindly tree branches reach out to grab me, their knobby arms scratching mine. Though the cold was almost unbearable without a coat, this is what I cherished most about the season of the fallen leaves. With scenery so beautiful, but temperatures so harshly frigid, it is only a season I have come to call my favorite. Brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, and glum browns speckle the trees and the earth so abundantly, I can hardly tell apart canopy from horizon. Already-bare plants whimper at the sight of their leaves blanketing the ground, while other lush organisms are doomed the same fate. Once again, a puff of steam escapes my mouth and slips away, and I walk, wondering if autumn will disappear that abruptly, too.
Gnarled wood lay sprawled on every browning lawn. Debris and rubbish scatter the streets of New Jersey. Dedicated residents, determined to help after a hurricane, comb the neighborhoods for people in need of help. This is teamwork, recovery, and the time to push aside our differences to help others with their problems. The damage on homes and towns can slowly be undone, but the scarring left on the hearts of those truly misplaced, those who have experienced extreme loss, may never be undone. As I meander the beach I once knew, this barren lifeless expanse that seems so cold, I realize that though my loss was not extreme compared to the suffering of others, it is an extreme loss to me. A beach that was so bathed in sunlight, a beach littered but still beautiful, a beach ending in rolling dunes with swaying grasses, where has it all gone? This featureless tundra holds almost no conformity to the beach that used to be mine. But now, it is my job, my obligation, my mission to protect, nurture and love this beach because it is still all greedily mine. Mine to gape at, mine to grow glassy-eyed. Mine to wander and become lost in thought as I had done so many years before.
A melodic warble, that of the last autumn birds, meandered through the stinging cold air. Its sorrowful tune drifted in and out of spindly tree branches, branches that were once teeming with leaves and life. Not only this melody reminisced about warmer seasons, but other meager details showed nostalgia, too. The elderly, cracked trees swooning in the harsh winter breezes, the adventurous squirrels scrambling one last time through browning grass, and what seemed like the most summer-loving forest-dweller of all, the flowers, wilting away at the hands of the white death. Soon, dew drops will turn to icicles, as well as rain turn to snow, and fall to winter.
These waves licked my heels, beckoning me to their salty paradise. Wrapped around my ankles, desperately clinging to me, the currents sang: “We want you,” they coaxed and oozed, “come back to us.” Each time a swell crashed, I tried harder to resist. My face was stricken with tears, as well as sea spray, and my own will to live drove me to stand every time I had fallen. But, these forces proved to be a power strong enough to overcome me, and I hear the wind whisper one more thing before I tumble backward and the ocean rushes up to gobble my limp being: “Goodbye.”
The sea, with frothy foaming waves,
Crashing but often swelling up again,
The swirling aqua storm it braves,
Yet, the howling wind it always craves,
With the strength of 100 men.
Then suddenly, there is serene and calm,
And seaweed and squawking gulls,
A boy humming softly, shells in palm,
Cautious treading after a silent bomb,
The quiet cast an eerie lull.
A bomb that is neither seen nor heard,
The dismal chaos raging on,
Like peace after war, it is preferred,
Like the world to weary eyes, it is blurred,
And as easily as it came, the tempest is gone.
Because some do not know,
Din and hush at the same instant,
As if clamor and quiet, it’s the other they loathe,
And so goes their secret oath,
An oath to be the one everyone must listen.