“This is perfection.”
I turned my eyes from the breaking waves and back to the girl at my side. She was sitting regally in her lounge chair watching the dry sand fall between her toes. Red rimmed sunglasses and zinc on her nose matching her lipstick and the red and white polka dotted bow in her hair. She looked like a model.
“I am serious.” She said looking up at me. “The smells. The sounds. The feel of the sun and the sand. All of it. I really think heaven is a beach.”
I gave her a smile before turning my attention back to the ocean. The warm Santa Ana wind coming off the Pacific blew through my hair. Somewhere out there, we had been attacked. Somewhere out there, just days ago, people died.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I’m wondering what they’re doing in Hawaii right now. I’m wondering what’s going to happen next”
“Can’t we just enjoy heaven right now? Enjoy this beach?” She pleaded, touching my arm. “Let’s pretend. Just for today. Pretend we can spend the rest of our lives on a beach. Please?”
“Sure Kat.” I smiled, grabbing her hand. “The rest of our lives. Right here in the sand.”
Hand over hand I crawled away from the water, dragging legs that wouldn’t move. I was losing strength, but I needed to make it just a little farther. I needed to get to dry sand.
I felt so weak. I didn’t feel the pain any more. I didn’t feel anything.
I collapsed with my face in the wet sand.. My arms couldn’t pull my wait anymore. I could still hear the cacophony of war all around me. Waves crashing against boats. Boots in the surf. Gunfire. Explosions.
“Come on soldier.” A voice grunted. “Let’s get you out of here.”
I felt myself being pulled forward by the pack on my back. Pulled out of the wet. Pulled on to dry sand.
I opened my eyes and saw light again. The man had moved me to my back.
“He’s done for. Ain’t nothing we can do.” Another voice said.
Something blocked the sun. A face?
“Sorry lad, we gotta leave ya. Say hello to heaven for us.”
“Pocket.” I coughed, bringing my hand up to grab the man’s sleeve with my remaining strength.
The man reached in and pulled out a piece of ribbon and placed it in my hand.
“There ya go kid. See you on the other side.” The men left, their quick exit spraying dry sand on my face.
I pulled the ribbon to my face. Wet with blood and seawater, but I could still see the white polka dots.
“I made…” I sputtered. “I made it Kat.”
The rest of my life on a beach.