by S. S. Michaels
“They look like ants,” you say. You spit out a grain of sand that flew into your mouth when that screaming guy in the polyester track suit sprinted by, his sneakers kicking up a rooster tail behind him. “You know, like a big bloated orange torso that some kid pulled the legs off of.”
The squeal of locking brakes, screeching rubber marring the asphalt, a hideous metallic crunch and a boom all echo down the beach from the street behind us.
I squint at the object you’re holding in both hands like some antique shop rarity.
I snort. “Circus peanuts don’t look like ants,” I say, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. Some student walks by, leaving a trail of school shit that leaks out of his L. L. Bean monogrammed backpack. A calculator. A pocket-sized dictionary. A couple of pens. He mutters something unintelligible and pulls at his greasy brown hair as he plods by.
People scream from the pier, though none of the rides are operating.
“What’s a six-letter word for a bouquet of seashells?” I say.
You’re looking at the starfish running by on two legs, smiling. I know you’re worried about it dying on dry land, though. You throw the circus peanut and it lands in the creature’s path. It lets out a dry screech and changes direction. You frown..
“Danger?” you say.
A bus crashes into the new Hilton Hotel across the street from the beach. Breaking glass flies through the thickening air, slicing anyone and anything in its path.
There are no sirens anymore.
Those stopped a few days ago.
When the sky started to change color and we didn’t notice.
My crossword puzzle is too hard. Or maybe I’m bored with it. I lay it on the greenish sand next to me and stand up to stretch.
“Are you going somewhere?” you say.
Families run toward the street. People trip over each other. Maybe they’re on their way to dinner.
“No. Where would I go?”
Over the water, Jupiter sets more gracefully than the sun ever has.
S. S. Michaels is represented by Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency. She has written three novels, and has had several short pieces appear in on-line publications. She has worked for Scott Free, dick clark productions, inc., and CBS. Visit her on the web at http://slushpilehero.wordpress.com, and check out her story Road to Revival House.