“I see the sea, but can the sea see me?”
The voice sounds physically close to my ear but, when I turn to see who whispers such sweet nothings, nobody is there.
I turn the other way in case the voice’s owner has gone behind my back.
A stranger stands there with a glass of water in his hand, holding it out to me. I know it is water because strangers can only offer water to other strangers to drink. This to avoid skullduggery. Filtered clear, spring-like, untampered with.
I take the glass. He smiles as he nods me to quench my thirst. I surreptitiously sniff it a split second before I sip it. Then a gulp as the next mode of intake. Lastly, a long, breath-held quaffing. Until the glass is emptied to its last drop.
I smack my lips in satisfaction. The stranger smiles. We seem no longer strangers to each other. But friends of recent making.
He takes me by the hand towards the edge of the sea, where it can see me. The sea is short-sighted. The sand starts hard-ribbed as left by the tides, but it is soon pulpy enough to make footprints. I throw the glass into the sea.
He shouts. He is angry.
“The sea’s monocle!” I shout back, stork-legging like a latter-day Jacques Tati, as the ground surrounds me with its dizzying whirlygig of horizons, some man-made, others sea-edged.
The man makes me dig where the sand is pulpiest. Despite the light-headedness, I reach the finger-holes of a human skull.
I shrug my shoulders and try to throw this into the sea, too. But the whirlygig has made me throw it back not forward. Straight at the man’s caved-in face.
A groundswell of mixed emotions. The sea is the only witness. Unreliable, of course. The shattered ribs of a wreck poking through. History is a series of challenges and responses via a filter whose lens-baffles allow a two-way flow. Tides ebbing and flowing into each other.
I sip suspiciously, then hold my breath ready to quaff a million million spinning strangers.