It is like walking into the ocean. First standing at the shore and letting the water drift up and touch your toes. Looking down at your feet as they sink into the wet sand and watching the waves curl into crashes, finding which one will be the one that reaches you. Taking a step forward and letting the water wash up to your ankles and spreading your toes and letting sand creep between them. Looking back to see if your mother is watching and she sits there eating a salami and cheese sandwich and waves at you and smiles.
The dim sun above just settled in the sky. Taking another step forward into the cold water and your knees knocking and your teeth chattering. Looking out into the sea and there is nothing but the empty grey horizon. The water rushing up past your shins and its ice cold but your feet are ok. They are warm by this time. They are used to it.
Behind you she is smoking a cigarette and staring up into the sky, lost in thought. The crumpled paper bag lay next to her and she has taken off her shoes and dug her feet into the beach. She looks so content and alone that you want to run back to her and throw your arms around her neck and say something, anything, to make her smile again.
The water lifts up to your thighs and you stop and shiver. In the distance, like a speck, is a boat you just noticed. It has no sails and simply sits, floating against the falling sky. You look back so you can point it out to her and she is digging in her purse and doesn’t look at you. She looks so small in the great white bed of sand that you can hardly make out what she has pulled from her bag but then when you see the plume of smoke rising up from her head you realize it was a cigarette. This comforts you.
When it gets to your waist you wonder if you should turn back. Goose pimples cover your arms and chest and the muscles in your stomach tighten. You hold your breath. Your legs are ok, they too, have finally gotten used to it. They aren’t warm but they are no longer freezing. You are in a spot where waves crash behind you and before you but where you stand the water just swirls slowly, pushed too and fro by the great weight of the earth.
She has lain on the towel and is reading a paperback book. The wind is beginning to kick up the edges of the towel. It flaps against her knees but she doesn’t care or at least pretends she doesn’t care. You can no longer see your feet in the dark water. Waves swell up and fold against your chest. You take a deep breath and lift up, drifting with the tide for a moment before feeling your toes touch the soft ground again.
You take one last look to see if she is watching you. Her book is on her breast and it heaves with her breath and you cant tell if she is sleeping or just watching time change in the sky. Waves slowly break at your neck, tickling your chin. The boat throbs on the horizon. There is no turning back. You inhale as much air as you can and dive.