On a whim, Marc returns to Herring Cove and parks facing the bay. As if to welcome him, the ocean reflects a spectacular sunrise in shimmering patches of color, like jewels in a gray velvet box. As sea and sky merge to seamless silver-gray, the colors fade. Off Race Point, growing swells counter the rush of incoming tide, marking the conflict between ocean and bay with a static wall of whitecaps.
The morning is unseasonably mild. A fog bank rolls in from the Atlantic. First just a wall of grey in the far distance, soon it has blanketed ocean and shore in an endless void. What had been radiant and beautiful is soon obliterated. Waves appear mere seconds before they crash on the beach, sound, not sight, announcing their arrival. It’s as if he’s peering over the edge of the world.
Security is mortals’ chiefest enemy. Even Marc’s favorite quote loses some of its power in this vast nothingness. While the ocean’s ways are new to him, they invoke the same impressions as when he’d climbed the Duck Mountains as a boy. A person could feel isolated and adrift in a fog like this or they could study whatever is right in front of them and find their way from one point to the next. A lot like trying to write—you can spend an eternity worrying about what you can’t see, or get down to detail and focus on what you can.
As he considers this newfound sentiment, the fog lifts enough to let in a trace of dim, morning light. An impatient bark alerts Marc he is no longer alone. Just yards down the beach, a golden retriever prances with excitement. In the pale mist, the dog and its owner appear then disappear from view, immersed in play, running and dodging across the sand. The dark-haired man’s natural grace is impressive. He runs barefoot, displaying confidence in his body and perfect accord with his surroundings. Marc, confined behind the wheel of his car, feels pangs of envy.
The wind picks up from onshore, and the fog bank retreats. The man tosses the stick. On command, the dog bounds into the surf, surmounts the powerful waves, retrieves the stick, rides a large wave to land, and joyously drops its prize at its master’s feet. As Marc watches spellbound, the dog begs for another toss. Her tail wags rapidly, and she leaps high in the air when the stick is held beyond her reach.
Man and dog lope toward Marc’s car. When they are within twenty feet, the man stops, sheds his clothing, tosses the stick into the frigid surf, and dives in after it. The dog plunges in, valiantly paddling to get there first.
Marc slouches in the seat, sensing he’s violating a private moment. For an instant, he considers joining the race, but soon thinks better of it. Even if he could tolerate the cold water, such a move would only be misinterpreted as a sexual advance.
At one with the waves, the man bodysurfs to shore. His faithful companion paddles in his wake with the stick in her mouth, then rolls victoriously in the sand. Making eye contact with Marc for the first time, the man pauses, then smiles mischievously.
Marc feels the tug of sexual tension. After a moment’s hesitation, the man turns his back, then steps into his shorts. Certain he’s misread the signal, Marc averts his eyes in embarrassment. When he looks up at last, man and dog have disappeared over a dune.
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