The water’s just too damn cold.
Jake stood on the shore of California’s blue expanse, examining its horizon, noting the abnormalities under it. The ocean seemed empty to Jake. Sure, there was life teeming underneath, but nothing above he could see. The waves tumbled; the sea foam, in clockwork, came and went—hugging Jakes’s ankles, offering shallow solace.
Born on a farm in Pennsylvania, standing now, ankle deep, at the edge of existence. How did I—
“Why don’t you come back in?” Michael’s voice stole Jake away from his thoughts. He reached out his hand, “Let’s talk.” Michael’s body, not yet in the water but just out of grasp of the ocean’s reaching, rippling fingers, awaited response.
A black dot broke the surface in the closest series of waves.
“There!” pointed Jake, his arm outstretched, “Do you see it?” He laughed. A black seal broke the surface twenty yards or so from where they stood. “He’s come to watch me die,” Jake turned around and met Michael’s stare, offering a deflated grin, “and you too?”
“Come on out.”
“DON’T!” Jake yelled, closing his eyes and breathing heavily. “NO!” He began to scream. Michael shot his hands in the air.
“Nothing in my hands.” Michael signaled, “Nothing in my hands.”
– – –
Inching slowly, ever so slowly, Michael approached Jake. Cold seeped in through Michael’s shoes and bit his skin. Jake had since opened his eyes and was reexamining the water. Finally, the two stood side-by-side; Jakes’s explosive vest was visible to Michael for the first time.
“Every inch you move is another towards death, my friend.”
“There’s no gun…”
“… so its been since birth.”
Michael closed his eyes in defeat.
The seal again broke the surface and Jake smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”