Alive

One foot at a time, he lets himself sink. He is tugged by the shore and allured by the sea. The sun is warm on his back and the beer bottle cool in his palm. One by one, he releases his fingers until the bottle plops into the water. He should pick it up.

I should pick it up, he thinks, but his mind his numb. He watches it float, sink, re-emerge, float away.

‘Oi,’ he mumbles. ‘You – get back here.’

He lurches through the shallows and clumsily dives for the bottle. His jeans are soaked, his shirt saturated. The sea drips from his charcoal beard. He picks up the bottle. Water, mixing with beer, swirls inside. He tightens his fingers and then tromps back to the shore.

His daughter waits for him, sitting with her elbows upon her knees. ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ she asks.

He squints at the sun and follows its beam to the water. ‘No,’ he admits. He sits down beside his daughter. ‘I lost it too long ago. The sea has it now.’

His daughter gently stands, removing her shoes and her dress. She walks to the water and closes her eyes. The water pulls her in every direction and she feels small, light, but content. So this is what it felt like to be lost, taken and overcome. This is what he meant. This is what it felt like to be alive.

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