Pulling into the parking space, I can see the heat radiating off the black asphalt. Like shimmering, dancing ghosts skimming between the cars, little whirlwinds swirl in the dimming light.
Reluctantly I turn off the car, the cool breeze blowing from the dashboard vents is quickly replaced by humid ocean air.
I tug on my ball cap, tucking stray strands of hair behind my ears. As soon as I open the car door the rest of the air-conditioned cold is sucked out and I immediately begin to sweat.
With my camera strap looped around my neck, I lock the car and head toward the wooden stairs leading to the boardwalk that arcs over the dunes.
Along the fence and base of the risers, small drifts of sand form. If it weren’t for the desert hot winds, you could easily believe it was snow. Sugar white granules fill every nook and cranny, creating abstracted patterns on the wooden slats.
Bypassing the zigzagging ramp, I take the stairs two at a time, hoping to get to the beach in time. At the top of the landing, I can finally smell the sharp aroma of the ocean blowing off the Gulf waters.
It’s windy, and I’m grateful for my snug cap. Turning my back to the water, I take off my glasses, wiping the lenses on the hem of my T-shirt. The salt spray leaves a dull film on the glass. I kick off my shoes at the end of the boardwalk before descending to the beach. The air cools with each step down I take. At the base of the stairs I open my arms, face turned toward the sky, and breathe in the ocean.
Making my way along the shore, my skin begins to tingle. A mix of the hot sand and the cool spray of water mingles to leave a fine crust of salt on my arms and face. I lick my lips, tasting the tang of the Gulf.
The beach, soft beneath my feet, is more like powdered sugar than sand. Still warm and sun-baked, I feel it sift between my toes. I wade into the surf, letting the tiny evening waves gently wash the sand from my ankles and legs.
Clear emerald green in full daylight, the water is ever shifting layers of mysterious onyx in the deepening night. White-tipped waves curl over the shoals, churning up the sand, offering skittish pipers tiny morsels of seaweed and mussels. Their twig legs quickly skipping ahead of the ebbing water’s edge.
The seagulls are loudly protesting my presence, cawing their insults as they swoop and dive. They congregate on abandoned turrets of children’s sandcastles, surveying their sandy kingdom, impatiently waiting for me to leave.
Turning west, I see the molten heart of the sun slowly melting below the horizon. Syrupy strands of orange and gold sunlight course along the edge of the ocean, reaching out long tendrils toward the shore.
Light clouds, pale yellow and deep purple, spread across the sky. A lacy curtain drawn between the worlds, glimpses of paradise shine through the veil. The day begrudgingly giving way to the night.
After capturing a few fleeting memories within my camera, I find a dry patch of beach above the tide line. Sitting cross-legged, my body forming a perfect indentation on the sand, I close my eyes. I swear later that I could hear the final sigh of the sun as it drops below the edge of the world, coming to rest at the end of the day.
For Story Dam, an online writing community offering weekly and monthly writing prompts. This week’s theme is: Take me there