Snakes and Pills

206 - frozen hands

Titus flicked his turn signal on and pulled off the highway. The turnoff was unmarked, but he had known it since he was a kid. He suspected most of the residents of this place did. He also suspected that it remained unmarked to keep the tourists out, to keep a little sanctuary for locals amidst the ever-growing swell of visitors.

His beat-up sedan buckled and groaned as it transitioned from the well-paved asphalt to the dirt road that was never maintained. Though there hadn't been any rain for weeks, his tires splashed through puddles, giving the sides of his car a fresh coat of mud. Empty fast food containers rolled around on the passenger-side floor.

When he arrived at the expanse of dirt that constituted the parking lot, Titus found that he was alone. He wasn't too surprised. Even on nice days, there was a good chance Connor's Point would be deserted. The brisk air of today all but guaranteed it.

He brought his car to a stop as close to the sea as he could. Stepping out, he felt the sea breeze making the air salty and wet. A gust whipped it into his face, and he zipped up his light jacket before walking out to the beach.

The unmarked exit was not the only reason Connor's Point remained off the beaten path. No good secret lasted for long here. But Connor's Point was only an okay secret. Its beach was somewhat small and rocky. The current was strong here, too, splashing rough waves upon the shore. It also often sullied the sand with flotsam, jetsam, and all kinds of other unpleasant marine debris.

That wasn't to say that Connor's Point was an unpleasant spot, and most locals were more than content to put up with its flaws in exchange for freedom from the horde. His family had visited the place occasionally for as long as he could remember, but he found himself coming out a lot more ever since he had gotten a license and a set of wheels. It was a good place to get some thinking done.

Lately, he had a lot to think about.

With sneakers sunk into depressions in the sand, Titus watched the rhythm of the sea for a while. He marveled in how the waves never came to a stop. Perpetual motion, they were forever. Yet, there was an end. Somewhere, in the direction he stared, eventually, existed something else.

Weary of boggling his mind with the immensities and inevitabilities of the sea, he started down the beach, climbing some of the large rocks that marred the shoreline. He had no destination in mind, but he felt good putting even more distance between himself and everything else.

He was quite surprised when he descended a large rock into a small alcove and discovered a big gray walrus beaching itself in the sand. He felt a flash of fear, especially when the beast turned its head in his direction.

This was a wild and dangerous animal, after all. Titus also felt some childlike curiosity at seeing such an animal up close. Especially since he had heard that all of the walruses around here had long been extinct.

The walrus looked at Titus with the same cautious interest. This was a wild and dangerous animal, after all. He watched the human eyeing his tusks, which were quite large. They were also quite weathered, having seen some rough times.

Neither animal had anything to fear. They locked eyes. Somehow, Titus understood. In his eyes, Titus saw a pain that was not mere loneliness. It was survivor's guilt. Titus knew, because he carried it in his eyes, too.


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