To Forget

 

How painful it is to grip so strongly onto anything only to feel it slip desperately through your fingers, the rush of the mind struggling to solve the problem of losing control and the rush of the heart at realizing the futility. Sand never felt this way to him before. Always it would rush freely from his grip, nothing but the satisfying relief of deflation as it escaped back into the tide. Today it was different, perhaps in the way that everything about this visit to the beach had been different.

The setting of the winter sun meant that it was far too cold to swim within the water, but his hands could tolerate it as they always had. He was brushing them along the ocean floor frantically searching for something to grip onto, something which could not escape between the cracks of his fingers. So often they had come to this beach together and brushed their hands along the sea floor intent to find the little treasures of nature’s graveyard. Shells, beauteous stones, sanded glass and fish bones were amongst their many wonderful finds, but today he would discover nothing but sand slipping ever so silently past his knuckles. He was alone of course, a fact which rang deeper within his soul than the mere fact that nobody was present beside him. It was the bitter sort of aloneness which spoke only to say that it should not be so. The rushing tide brushed past his feet and he had decided finally that it was time to surrender this search.

Where they were from it was easy to find yourself heading out to the shore. In fact there was little else to do, especially for a couple desperate to escape the homes of suburbia overlooked by prying eyes; but few people came out here alone, especially by night and when winter had tightened its grip. He was alone of course because she had left. Months had passed and the sting of the separation had been replaced with the  dull ache of yearning. Yearning either to return to what was or flee to what might come next. Like the sand upon which he drew with his anxious index he found that his own mind was easy to erase. Not even a few months had passed and he found himself questioning his memory, its little details and visions. He thought deeply about the look of her face and found sadly that he could not produce a definitive clone of it. He could always be pretty sure, but never entirely, that her smile was such a way, her eyes were such a color and her hair fell such as it did across her face. He had begun to question the accuracy of a mind as selective with memory as his. He wondered, had dates actually been dreams, had jokes ever actually been so funny and had they really loved each other as deeply as the memory had produced it to seem? For someone who could forget whole periods of his life in the daydreams and ponderings of pointless musings these were the questions that had caused an aching in his soul. An aching he had come here to see ratified.

This place answered no questions for him. Sweeping waves brushed past his sand etchings, effortlessly reducing them to smooth indentations and then to oblivion. They were reminders that life, like his memory, was fleeting; reminders that every moment he spent out in the cold on this beach in the night was wasted time. He picked himself up and brushed the faint image of her eyes from his mind, turning back towards his car. No answers would come from remaining in this place and holding still. The ache persisted but he pulled himself from its grip, allowing it instead to pulsate gently upon his heart so as to keep it beating. He did not look back to see but he knew that as he walked away his footprints left behind would vanish. He resolved to himself than that if this beach could forget him so too could he learn to forget this beach, and so it no longer tied him down.