A girl flicks her lighter a half dozen times, damn thing won’t light. She shakes it next to her ear, listening for fuel—empty. “Zavid, you got—” Zavid pulls his Zippo from a pocket. A colorful eagle painted on its side. She already knows what he’s going to do. He loves doing it. In one smooth motion he slaps the cover open against his leg, on the return swing it lights, then passes it to her. “Thanks,” she said, muffled, the cigarette hanging from her lips.
A trio of kids pass a ball back and forth while looking at their phones. Liking images, watching videos, messaging each other and others. One takes a picture of the other two, then sends them the image. They laugh. Because it’s actually funny or because it’s so absurd? Hey, look, it’s us doing the thing we’re doing—right now. Inspired, the other two copy the first and post their images on social media feeds. They start recording short videos and posting those. It won’t be long before things get out of hand. Later that night, trying to run up the seawall, catch the ball, and throw it back, one of the boys will break his arm. The video of that will get more likes than all the others combined.
“But, babe…Babe, listen to me. No, it isn’t like that. Please…Let me explain.” But she’s not having it. He’s been walking along the beach for two hours trying to get her to hear him out, but she won’t let him get a word in edgewise. Just keeps on going on and on about how he’s such a liar, such scum, such a cheater. Should have listened to her sisters about him. What a loser. Who was she, huh? Some bitch from the ghettos where he sold weed? “I was at work,” he said over her non-stop yammering. And it was true. This time, it was actually true. But she wasn’t listening.
An old woman watches the milling figures from her tenth floor apartment. The TV playing a show in the background. The flow of life on the beach is far more interesting. Even though she can’t see faces, she sees motion. She gathers a sense of what’s happening. The shifting pattern holds her attention, not the individuals that form it.
Over the scene plays the gentle sound of the ocean. Inhale and sigh, inhale and sigh. The sound of the world breathing. All those on the beach will look back at summer nights like these and smile.