KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Micro-Fiction: 421 words

Waiting by Water

by April Johnston

When I hear Joel and Lucas in the tackle shop talking about the sheriff and the foreign boys, I don’t have to ask questions. I already know.

We were standing on sand, waiting for the super moon—that bulging orange globe that rises so close to earth you swear you can touch its crags and craters—to slip over the horizon when they appeared. Three caramel-skinned teenaged boys speaking in soft, accented English. I guessed: Pakistani?

They walked swiftly and deliberately to the surf, as if they were late for a business meeting. For a moment they stood, three in a tight row, staring into watery endlessness.

And then they screamed: whooping, eardrum-crackling screams.

Our 70-pound mutt, who had previously acknowledged their appearance with only a bored glance, suddenly stood and trembled at the sound, begging to join them as they discarded shoes and chased seagulls across surf.

They ripped off T-shirts and tossed them skyward, watching as the wind grabbed them, held them still for a moment and then spiked them into the sand. They cheered. My husband guessed: High?

It didn’t matter. We were captured. We forgot about the super moon and turned toward them, staring in tickled wonder as they repeatedly climbed to the dunes’ peaks and rolled back to the bottom, filming falls with cell phone cameras.

When dusk shrouded them in gray, we turned back to the air and stared into the crease where sky meets water. A slice of orange emerged, and by the time the moon hung huge in the night, the boys had gone. We didn’t know where.

“Foolish,” Joel says to Lucas, shaking his head. “Those boys tried to break into the lighthouse to take pictures and then they ran when the sheriff came around. I would have arrested them, too.”

I interest myself in a wall of lures, so they can’t see my derision. I’d grown up in this isolated town, where locals believe in a strict system of rewards and punishments. But I left for six years and joined the big world, where chaos reigns, where we can’t know why and it doesn’t matter anyway.

So it startles me that pure, unbridled joy can be sucked up and swallowed without hesitation or apology; that while we waited for the super moon, the law waited for them.

As Joel pulls bait out of the freezer, I slip out the side door and march across gravel to the ATM, hoping I’ll have enough money to set the chaos free.

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