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[Fiction] The Abandoned Beach

By Kat Kovalevska


 Dana sat down on the curb outside the convenience store. She took out a cigarette and stared at it. She stopped smoking a while ago, and yet, she still thought of herself as a smoker. The itch hadn’t fully left her. She instinctively reached out for a cigarette whenever she was stressed or nervous or bored. A little bored was how she felt right now. The cigarette that she was holding was almost falling apart from spending such a long time in her purse. She didn’t carry a lighter, just the cigs.


She could tell that the sun was close to setting. There were glimpses of it shining between the pines across the road. Was it time to go home? Maybe she could stay longer. Sea Rustle, Dana’s small coastal suburb, was picturesque in the summer, and she wanted to bask in its charm. She didn’t want to go home just yet. Home was noisy, and she often preferred to escape the commotion of a house full of people (her parents and younger brothers) and animals (two big dogs).


All was quiet and serene in the suburb by the sea, and often the only sound was the train that ran about once an hour and was currently leaving the station on the other side of the road. Occasionally, a car drove by, but that too was rare. And there was absolutely no foot traffic; why would there be? Where would anyone be heading right now?


Dana liked coming here and watching the sunset between the pines or listening to the train in the distance. It was better than the seaside, the usual place for seeing the sunset, which she found too banal.


Dana was watching such a sunset when she noticed a gray sedan driving up the road. Then the car stopped by the curb. A tall, gorgeous guy with dark fluffy hair got out. Was he a local? She didn’t think so; she hadn’t seen him before. She would’ve remembered if she had. She knew most of Sea Rustle’s residents.


He walked into the store. Locals went there to get all their necessities. Dana turned away. She didn’t want him to catch her staring. Although maybe he was used to it, being that good-looking. Instead, she’d just continue watching the sun between the pines. But then she heard footsteps. Someone was coming up to her.


“Do you need a lighter?”


She turned around. It was the guy. Up close, she could see his face better. He had delicate, almost androgynous features. A cute, straight nose and full, puffy lips. His jawline was exquisite, and his eyes were shaped like almonds. His beauty was ethereal. He looked like a fictional character come to life.


He held a mesh bag with pieces of firewood and a container of lighter fluid. Was he grilling tonight or was this for a fire pit? Maybe a fireplace? Many local homes had those.


“Do you?” he asked again.


“Um, actually, I don’t smoke,” Dana replied. “I used to, but I stopped. I still carry cigarettes. And when I feel like smoking, I take one out and hold it.” She continued moving the cigarette as evidence. “I find it calming.”


He laughed, his laughter bubbling like water in a creek.


“You won’t believe this but I’m the same,” he said. “I stopped six months ago. But I still carry a lighter. I play with it whenever I feel like smoking.” He pulled out a lighter from his pocket.


Dana smirked. They had a shared obsession: two people who had stopped smoking but still held on to the artifacts and habits that came with it.


“Anyway, what’s your name?”


“I’m Dana.”


“Nice to meet you, Dana. I’m Alex.”


Alex. So simple. She would’ve thought he had an exotic name to go with those otherworldly looks. Like Kairo or Enzo or Fabian or something of the kind.


“Are you waiting for someone?”


“No, I . . . I’m just enjoying the view. I love how everything turns golden before the sunset.”


“That’s one of the things I love about Sea Rustle. The scenic evenings. That’s why I’m going for a drive right now.”


The conversation stalled as neither of them said anything more. The silence elongated.


“Do you want to come with me?” he blurted out.


Was getting in a car with a stranger a good idea? This wasn’t something she’d do when outside of her quaint suburb, definitely not in the city, where she was wary of strange people. But since they were in Sea Rustle, she could probably trust him.


“Yes,” she said.


She got into the car. He put the firewood and the container in the backseat and then sat behind the wheel. The sedan was quite spacious. They drove down the avenue. Dana looked out the window at the tall pines and the detached houses along the road. It was ten minutes before Dana realized she had no idea where she was going with Alex.


“Are we on our way to anywhere in particular?” she asked.


“Actually, I had this thing in mind—” he began.


Suddenly, Dana panicked. What did he have in mind? She just thought she’d take a risk and get into a stranger’s car. But what if he wanted to do something sordid? What if he was going to kidnap her?


“You saw what I bought.”


Firewood and lighter fluid? Was he planning on burning fire in his garden? And he wanted her to come with him? What for?


“I wanted to make a bonfire on the beach,” Alex said, breaking the train of Dana’s thoughts. “I’ve always wanted to do that. Growing up, it was a fantasy of mine. Sometimes you have these old dreams that refuse to leave.”


Dana exhaled a breath she did not realize she had been holding.


“And summer will be over in a few weeks. So why not do it now?” Alex continued.


“That sounds fun. Romantic, actually,” she paused, observing his reaction.


But Alex had no reaction. He continued looking straight at the road. This was curious. He didn’t think about this as romantic? Or he didn’t think of her in a romantic way?


“I’ve never been by a bonfire on a beach either,” she continued.


Again, nothing from Alex.


“There’s only one problem,” she said. “Bonfires are forbidden on the main beach.”


“Nobody will see. It’s nighttime. We can get away with it.”


“Someone might still see the fire and the smoke because there are houses right along the seafront.”


The corners of Alex’s mouth dropped a bit.


“But I know where it’s possible to build a bonfire with no one seeing it,” she said.


His eyebrows lifted. “You mean, on the beach?”


“There’s an abandoned beach. It’s behind the big dunes. It’s this hidden gem—pristine with huge waves that break loudly. I think it used to be popular in the past. But now nobody goes there.”


“Sounds like the perfect place.”


“Yes. I’ll tell you how to get there. We have to reach the main beach first.”


Alex made a quick right turn into the pine tree-lined street that led to the sea just as the sun slipped away behind the treetops.


Sea Rustle’s main beach access was located at the end of a narrow residential street with winding turns requiring any driver to slow to a crawl to avoid careening out of control. It was often faster to walk than drive, but the slow down allowed ample time for Dana and Alex to talk. Alex was friendly and civil. He complimented her outfit—a blouse and a frilled skirt—and said she looked feminine and pretty.


He offered her a blanket he had in the back seat if she got cold on the beach. Other than those innocuous and possibly polite points, Alex seemed wholly uninterested in Dana. Despite being stung by the rebuff, Dana felt this was good, in a way, as it meant that he wouldn’t try to romance her. He was hard to figure out. Although maybe he just wanted a companion for his bonfire burning adventure. 


They reached the seafront, and Alex parked the car on the road outside the beach entrance. They grabbed the supplies and walked past the houses, the main beach and the dunes.


“How far is it?” he asked.


“Not that far. We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”


“I just hope that the place is real.”


“It’s definitely real!” Dana said and then laughed. “I didn’t invent it.”


They soon reached the abandoned beach. The sand was as clean, and the waves were as big, as in Dana’s memory.


Alex seemed impressed. “It really is pristine with big waves,” he said. “And the lighthouse is not far away.” Indeed, the beacon’s light was flickering further away.


Alex and Dana put the pieces of firewood together. He poured the liquid on it and dropped a burning match. The fire burned. They sat on the sand next to it, watching the flames without exchanging words.


With the sun having set, a chill in the air appeared, and Dana covered herself with the blanket. In the warm light of the fire, Alex’s facial features looked even more refined and heavenly.


“So, tell me about yourself,” she said. “Did you grow up in Sea Rustle?”


“I lived here as a kid. Like, a very young kid. Until I was about five years old. Back then, I loved being surrounded by nature. The beach was always so close, and the pine grove was right at the end of my street.


But then we left Sea Rustle and moved to the city. I hardly ever came back. I had no reason to. But this spring, I started thinking about it all of a sudden. I’d be looking at the buildings, the lights flickering in the night, wishing I was in Sea Rustle, looking at the waves and the lighthouse in the distance.


“So, when summer came, and I had my new car, I started leaving the city and coming here. Nothing is quite as peaceful as driving down the alleyway. Or being in a pine grove. Or walking on the beach early in the morning.”


“I have the luxury of living that life full time. I don’t drive a car, but I love going on bike rides around Sea Rustle. It’s a good way to reach all the secret corners, unexplored nooks of the area.”


As they talked about themselves and their interests and to-dos, they found that they were both adventure seekers. Alex wanted to paraglide and see the tallest tree in the world; Dana wanted to dive into the depths of the ocean and meet the deep-sea creatures. They shared their thoughts on various subjects, their likes and dislikes. They also discussed the countries they wanted to visit, the books and movies they loved until they had talked so much that it felt like they had known each other for a lifetime but had just reconnected and had a lot to catch up on.


With the fire burning and the waves crashing, and his calm delivery in a velvety voice, it seemed like everything else had stopped. They were two people cut off from the rest of existence. Eventually, Dana’s eyelids became heavy with sleep. “I think I want to lie down for a bit,” she said and yawned.


“You go ahead and do that.”


She lay down on the sand and wrapped herself in the blanket. Alex continued looking at the flames. Dana closed her eyes. The fire warmed her hands and face. She soon fell asleep.


When Dana woke up, the sky was light. The bonfire was gone; remains of wood and ashes were all that was left.


Dana looked around. There was no Alex. Where was he? What if he had abandoned her? What if she was alone on a remote beach? What would she do then?


Dana caught something out of the corner of her eye. There he was, sitting by the sea. Relieved, she exhaled deeply. She walked over to him.


“The sun’s about to rise,” he said.


With that Dana sat next to him. The lighthouse was now fully visible, despite being enveloped in the morning fog. The sun appeared from where the sea met the sky. Sitting in silence, Dana replayed the last night’s events in her mind. She met this attractive stranger, burned a bonfire and spent a night on the beach. Now she was watching the sun rising over the sea. She knew these moments would turn into memories she’d cherish.



Kat Kovalevska is a fiction writer who lives in London, UK. She has always loved literature and has been writing for almost her entire life. Her short stories have been published by various publishers including the East of the Web website.





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