Here it is deadline day and I’ve nothing typed, nothing turned in, no decent thought to share or story to tell. I’d panic except I’m wriggling my toes in the warm sand. Fact is the only way to finish something is to start it.
“What are you writing?” my husband leans over and asks. He squints at the sun-brightened page to make out the words. Paranoia that I’m recording his life for voyeurs’ enjoyment prickles his sunburn.
“I’m trying to come up with a column,” I answer.
“A column?” he exclaims. “You mean the one that was due yesterday?”
“It’s not late yet,” I defend.
Readers frequently comment about the wonderful life of a writer, how I can set up office anywhere in any attire with or without shoes, how it must be fabulous to sit on a beach and compose literary works. Well, I’m sitting here on the beach in my bathing suit scribbling words on paper, and I don’t feel glamorous. I feel pressured.
Breaking surf, screeching seagulls and my husband’s efforts to converse crowd my creative space. Staring into the horizon, I search for inspiration. But inspiration sailed on the last ship out of the Savannah port, and I missed its farewell horn blast.
I’m charged with stringing together 600 coherent, if not meaningful, words. That’s all. It’s not like I have to solve the mystery of the universe. I just have to find the missing link between the first word and the last. Today 600 words may as well total a million.
“What are you thinking about?” my husband asks. He’s bored with watching bikinis. I’ve been distracted myself by the people doffed in bathing suits bought off beach-store racks. Not a one was tried on prior to purchase. These people reasoned that they won’t like what they see in the dressing room mirror no matter what two-piece they put on so no need to be particular.
When did humans become so uncivilized? When did we cease considering the feelings of our fellow man? It’s the rest of us who view bathing-suit-eating flesh, not the person in the swimwear. We’d like to see more bathing suit.
I look up from my half-blank page. “I’m wishing I owned a house that I needed to open for the summer.” It’s my attempt to redirect him. I fail. I always fail.
“I’m thinking you’d look better than her in a bikini,” he says, nodding toward a specimen of comparison.
“You would look better in a bikini than her and her and her,” I reply.
Pardon me, but I must pause for the in-coming tide forcing us nomads to relocate our temporary household to higher ground.
We’ll spend the remainder of the afternoon in various stages of retreat from the sea.
It will lick our toes and we’ll recoil again and again and again, until we and the ill-mannered, bathing-suit populace squeeze together on the narrow strip of sand between the laughing ocean and the dunes. In the end, we are cowards in the face of the great equalizer of mankind.
We drag our chairs a few feet westward. Seagulls descend on the remnants of our existence and squabble over chicken bones and potato chips. They scavenge the area clean of evidence of our habitation. What the birds don’t devour, the ocean eats. A plastic shovel grabbed in the overtake of our plot of land floats down shore so as to annul its association with us – people too weak to stand our ground.
I’d relate what happens next, but I’ve met my word count. Ahhh, this is the writer’s life.