2016-03-14

Paradise
—Short Fiction by Ian Ambler

Warm salt air with a hint of rotting seaweed kick at my face. Sitting in the shade of a four post concrete cabana, feet high, bare toes tickled by a warm breeze. I am content.
            The beach runs along a gentle cove, high rising walls of stone shoring in paradise among the desolation. The sands are rocky, with coral scattered among the pebbles, aching to bite into soft flesh. But even with the dangers to feet, the water is a soothing warmth to the body. First to the delicate toes, then to the shy legs only to pull the shoulders and head underneath as a white tipped waves thunder up the beach.
A half mile of paradise among the desolation only brings a half portion of revelers. It could be the time of day, or the day of the week, but even so it does feel lax as the sun hammers out of the perfectly blue sky. Why so few? Could it be complacency? Could it be longing? Could it be this is not the desolation it appears to be? Could be any of them, though hope seems the closest thing. Fear of hope. Fear to be in the presence. Fear to be reminded of beauty and freedom with the hyphenated removal from the desolation. It makes going back that much harder.
As the day goes on, the shadows of the palm trees slowly rotate across the sand. They are slight things and seem a stiff breeze would bring them down. Holes pock the exterior of the trunks and leaves normally green have edges of yellow. But they still stand, thick with coconuts, swaying in the breeze, mocking anyone who doubts. They made their way to paradise through generations of brothers plodding across the desolation. “Dare to remove me,” they chant. Fragile as they look, their ancestors were strong. They will not go quietly.
The waves of the afternoon ease, rarely throwing foam, and instead of smashing, simply place a gentle blanket on the sand. Eased though it is, the bombardment will never cease.
More people arrive, though more is little. Simply three or four. Their raucous intrusion breaks the rhythm of the waves, the wind through the palms, and the skittering of brittle leaves. The outsiders would be better served with an escort, or something of the sort. Speaking in paradise should be rid of, for the ocean speaks enough for all. What a single person says means nothing to the ocean, to paradise. Let the words remain silent. Let this place speak for you, to you, and allow the wisdom of ceaseless toil and never ending task become a part of you. Maybe you will understand. Maybe when you leave paradise the words will stay with you. Maybe you will emerge in the desolation and listen.

It may have words as well…


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Ian Ambler is a civil engineer as well as a navy veteran. He was a naval officer in the Civil Engineer Corps from 2011 to 2015 and was stationed in DC, California, and Guantanamo Bay. He will begin his graduate studies in Creative Writing in fall of 2016. He currently lives in Bothell, Washington.

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