The ocean is peaceful before dawn, a portrait of a living painting feathered through with pink and lavender pastels. Murky waves crash upon the shoreline and leave a sheen of wet sand as they receded. It glistens as it catches the sun-stroked clouds, illuminated by a light just beyond the horizon in those last, pregnant moments before sunrise. On those mornings, the beaches are empty, serene in their natural beauty and wonder.
However, that tranquility is short-lived.
The runners will come soon, plodding along the shore in microfiber shorts and rubber soles. The bravest run barefoot, but that is a foolish endeavor on a tourist beach like this, where drunken revelry under cloudless moonlight leaves shards of glass and metal buried in the sand. It is the only trace of the wild summer nights, a stark contrast to the calm now settled on the shore.
I have seen those scenes collide with one another. More than one late-night reveler too drunk to make it back to his room has laid his head down upon the glistening white sand to sleep ghost crabs scurrying about in the pale moonlight. I suspect, even a few miles down the shore — near the condominiums dotting the dunes to the west — that a similar scene might relive itself for the umpteenth time.
But that is not the case today. Today is new, fresh, untold . . . and waiting.
The sun cracks the distant horizon, a sliver of unbridled fire that peeks over the cusp of the earth like a curious child searching for seashells. It rises quickly and climbs toward heaven, painting the world in fresh gold. The ocean sparks, and the first songbirds sing.
In the distance, two figures — a man and a woman — jog along the coast. The soles of their bare feet vanish as the waves rush along the shoreline to greet them.
I am gone long before they arrive.