Flash Fiction

Copyright © 2012 by Eric Kaufman

A sample of flash fiction where the objective was to give the impression of a life in under 500 words.

And it Slips Away
By Eric Kaufman

Bits of skin curled and peeled up from the tip of his sun burnt nose. He scratched at it unconsciously as he scanned the waves from shore. His mother had told him that new skin grows back each year after shedding the old layer, and this helped him imagine that any possible cancerous cells had already been purged. He was an old man now and had lost faith in some of his mother’s wisdoms. But he never lost faith in beaches, and had spent a lifetime getting to know them.
His arms were soft and could no longer pull him along in the water as they used to. Now he could do little more than sit on the sand and stare out at the new talented young surfers in the water. He looked at them, but he didn’t see them. He only saw himself, surfing in his memories. Each day he walked down to the beach and looked out at the ocean which had become, for him, a mirror reflecting his past. In his old age he had even more reason to worship the ocean than he did in his youth.
He saw his first surfboard. It was much too large for him as a shortboard, and too small as a longboard. His father, who was always encouraging, had brought him to the beach near their house to give it a try. The fast breaking waves were only suited to body boarders. Neither knew the difference at the time, but this wave was impossible for learning to surf. One after another he paddled into waves much too steep and fast, freefell with his board, and was hammered into the ocean floor. The lifeguard must have had a chuckle to himself before running over and shoeing him out of the water. “Strands is for body boarding only. Try Salt Creek, you’ll have an easier time.”
Young girls walking past distracted him from his memory, but only for an instant. He didn’t see the g-string bathing suits, but the cut and fashion that women wore when he was a young man. He brought himself back to when he had laid eyes on his wife for the first time. Of course he had met her at the beach. Where else would he have met his wife? It was the only place where he spent any time. But as he began following the trails leading to memories of his wife, he shook and became confused. The lines crossed in his mind, pulling him from one to another. This always happened when his wife entered his thoughts, because invariably the fond memories would make their way to the singular dark one – the one where he was unable to save her life as she drowned at his feet, hidden in the sandy shallows. Or was it a shark that took her, he thought to himself. Or maybe she had just run off with another man.
The young surfers on their way in and out of the water always spoke to him, and when he wouldn’t respond or notice, they’d give him a gentle pat on the shoulder.