The Sea as a Sickness by Stephen V. Ramey

September 12, 2013 Comments Off on The Sea as a Sickness by Stephen V. Ramey

The beach was the texture of beef tongue. Harper rested on his feet, eyes seeking the unblinking sky. That is the realm of angels was his single thought. His heart thudded once, twice, a pause, a thud. He stared at the empty bottle cradled in his palms and wanted more.

A few strides away, Margie watched the ocean curl. Gulls dove into its spray. She thought of the long slow contentment of her life with Rick, the quick-slurp withdrawal of his death. At dawn, she had scattered his ashes on the ocean. It was almost noon. Was he still with her, or had he gone?

Ronnie in the lifeguard chair thought of CPR, his weight leaning in and out above a body with riotous red lips. The cadence was important, the pressure too. Too much of him, and the victim’s ribs would cave. He thought of a cage bending inward, point-punctured flesh, the stain of blood on water. For an instant, it was real, not the body, not the blood, but the feeling of implosion and imminent death.

Margie hugged her knees. “The sea is a sickness,” she said, and glimpsed Rick’s body churned and smashed within the foam. His eyes opened, his arms reached.

“The sea is a sickness,” came to Harper as if from an angel’s throat. The ridges of his forehead folded. His stomach heaved. He dropped to his knees, and the world curled around him.

Ronnie didn’t see the landscape wad into God’s invisible fist, or smell the vomit from Poseidon’s lips, but he did note a subtle change of perception, an alteration in the way the sun’s rays slanted, a shift of wind that carried sound differently. Someone needed saving. Someone needed him. He cupped his hand above sweat-stung eyes. No one was in the water. No one was on the beach.

© Stephen V. Ramey

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in various places, most recently Gone Lawn, Cactus Heart, and Pure Slush. His first collection of (very) short fiction, Glass Animals, is available from Pure Slush Books. Find him at

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