Stolen Sunset

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I remembered my father bringing me to this very beach.

By Mohamed Binkhadim

I passed the countless families enjoying the beach together to find a semi-secluded area to read a book I brought. The sand invading my sandals was bothering me, but I trudged on through the sand. I found a rock formation a few hundred meters away intruding somewhat on the sea’s territory. Both locked in an endless battle for the space between them. We know the waves will eventually win out, but none of us will be able to witness that sight. I climbed up to the formation carefully because my slippers were not the ideal footwear for scaling damp rocks at the beach. A salty aroma filled my nostrils pushed by the Gulf’s breeze as I finally reached the edge. My reward? A beautiful sunset on the beach, or so I thought. Rather frustratingly though, the tall pylons of a power plant blocked my view of the sunset from that point of view. 

After the sun had set, automatic lights turned solid white sequentially across the length of the beach. The irony of the power plant blocking the sunset I came to see being the only source of light after the sun dipped below the horizon was somewhat amusing to me. I tried to find a comfortable seat at the edge of the rock formation, but alas these rocks were not made for sitting. I shifted until I found a solid foothold that was, while uncomfortable, unflinching in the face of the waves assailing it. I found comfort in the fact that it won’t crumble beneath me. I read a few chapters as the cool breeze was becoming familiar to me. 

Some time passed, I did not know how much, but when I looked up it seemed as if I weren’t in the same place; it felt like an alternate universe version of the place. All the families had packed up and left. The sound of children playing and adults talking was gone. All that remained is the sea, constant, unrelenting waves crashed continuously in a chaotic rhythm. It felt surreal to me that a place’s entire atmosphere could change in, what I perceived as, a short time. It was both literally, and figuratively, night and day. My bones shivering told me I needed to go back home, but I knew I needed to walk on the beach barefoot. I haven’t done that in years and wanted a reminder of my childhood. I scaled back down the rock formation, and promptly ignored the red flag fluttering hectically in the ever-increasing wind speed. I ran across the width of the beach leaving my slippers behind. Their absence was immediately apparent to me as rough shells cracked and popped beneath my feet. 

Moving towards the pitch-black sea, I saw people’s names written on the sand, the waves washing them away gradually, as I finally stood there, feeling the water splash across my bare feet. A rush of nostalgia hit me almost in sync with the waves. I remembered my father bringing me to this very beach back when it was less… developed. It felt like the sea remembered me and this was a reunion of old friends catching up with one another. I finally snapped out of my daydream when a larger wave hit me. I fumbled back almost tripping but fortunately I caught myself. Unfortunately, the bottom third of my kandoora was drenched with salt water. I squeezed it dry as best I could, took one final look across the Gulf catching glimpses of cargo ships and oil tankers. Turning back, I thought “should’ve paid attention to the flag”