The sea water was cool around my feet, but the air was pleasantly warm. I waddled around a bit in the shallow water of a narrow stretch of beach, flanked off by concrete walls. It felt like a beach within a room, cosy and private.
An empty table by the wall caught my eye. What use could a table be here, with its legs dipped in the water? To store the bathers' things?
"Vodka tonic!" a voice chimed behind me cheerfully.
I turned around. A young man was beaming at me from a group of equally young, equally enthusiastic people.
"Hello." I replied politely. It barely occured to me that his greeting had been unusual. This was an unusual place after all.
"Are you here for a swim? May we intrude?"
"Go right ahead. I don't mind company."
"Thank you!" He smiled widely. Quite a friendly fellow. He turned towards the sea and stared into the distance for a while. "I advise you to get to higher ground though. The high tide will be coming soon."
"Yes, you're right. I'd almost forgotten about that." I started towards the stairs that led to the top of the cliff, but stopped midstep and remarked: "It's a shame you and your friends arrived here right before the high tide. It will cut your swimming short."
"No worries. We meant to come at this time."
In fact, they were doing something even more unusual than the greeting from before. They were laying papers down on the table. I enquired: "Wait... Won't your papers get swept away by the sea? I don't think you should put them there."
He smiled widely once more. "That is also deliberate. You see, that is our homework."
"We lost one of our teachers out at sea last year... He went swimming and was swept by the current and drowned." His smile softened and became sadder.
"I'm sorry to hear that..."
"Thank you. Well, he was such an amazing teacher, that our group has decided to pay homage to him every week by studying together and leaving our homework here to be taken by the sea..."
"Oh... Such a lovely tradition! I'm sure your teacher would have been proud of you. Erm, may I add to your offering? I have my notes from my language studies with me."
"Of course! Our teacher appreciated people who wanted to learn. Your notes are welcome."
So I put my papers on the table and we all went up the steps, out of the reach of the soaring waves.
And as we watched together our homework floating off the table, we all felt united by this small moment that we shared.
|This story is an embrace between the sea and a dream at the edge of waking.|