Sea change

By Miguel R. Llona

“The sea has no memory,” she once said, quoting a line from a movie. I forget what we were talking about, though I do remember the memory those words stirred in me.

I was seven, sitting at the back of my parents’ car. We were going to a beach. Thoughts of building sandcastles and wading in the water were swirling in my head when through the window, the rush of scenery gave way to the shimmering sea and the glowing white shore. I remember urging my father to drive faster.

When we reached the beach, my disappointments began. The water wasn’t a shimmering blue, but a foamy gray when it swirled around my ankles. The white sand turned a sickly brown when the tide swept through it. The waves churned out moss, seaweed, and broken shells I had to step over. Despite my parents’ pleadings, I spent most of the trip sitting a good distance away from the water, watching the waves try to reach me. ย 

Now, sitting on Nacpan Beach and staring at the sea, her words came back to me again. The blue sky melted into the sea, with only the shapes of distant islands marking the horizon. She sat beside me, scooping up sand in her palms and letting the fine grains flow through her fingers.

There was no one else on the beach. The endless sea of blue before me was calming, as though we were submerged in a place where time had stopped and memory had ceased to exist, as though the two years we had spent together were washed away by the waves. I felt small, the two of us unnecessary blots that the landscape could do without. “Why are we here,” I whispered to the air.

“You wanted this, right?” she said. Sunlight danced off the sweat on her arms. Her tone was the same when she said yes to this trip–languid, like the waves lapping up the sand.

“Just me?”

She didn’t answer. I went on staring at the sea, wondering how we ended up on this beach in the first place. I had shown her a picture of Nacpan’s twin crescent shores a month ago, expecting her eyes to light up at the sight. They didn’t–she just said it looked like two people leaning against each other’s backs. Yet here we are.

The wind picked up, so the waves started slapping the shore. She scooped up another handful of sand. As I watched the wind carry the grains from her palm, I wished other sounds apart from the sizzle of waves and the whistling of wind would keep us company. The silence was erasing us.

I thought of wading in the water then, but she stood up before I could. She kicked up small clouds of sand behind her as she walked towards the sea, away from me. Inside me, waves tossed and turned in a storm.

I watched her body slowly sink into the water. Before long she was just a dark mass beneath the water’s surface, one with the moss, seaweed and broken shells I knew lurked in the depths. Now alone, liberated from memory and embraced by all this primal beauty, I found myself wishing she wouldn’t resurface.

About the author

Miguel R. Llona is a freelance writer and former Managing Editor of BluPrint magazine. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and minored in English Literature from the Ateneo de Manila University.

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