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  • The beach stretched long and empty this late in the season. The wind and waves had erased the tracks of kite flyers and sunbathers, and the steady roll and rush of the surf made it a place apart from traffic and schedules and deadlines.

    i walked that day along the edge of the tide, my track swept clean behind me. The early morning mist hung thick and grey fading to white where the sun began to break through. Each step a discrete and separate moment, forward and back equally new, equally empty. i was focused inward, alone with the rhythm of the waves and my stride. I don't know what made me turn just then, but you were there on a cluster of rocks rising out of the sand.

    You sat gazing out and yet turned so completely inward I was unsure if you even noticed me. I felt an intruder and knew I should look away but couldn’t, I hadn’t realized I had stopped until you lifted your head slightly and I felt the touch of your regard as sure and deeply as a touch. There in that long moment I felt exposed and suspended and more than anything recognized. You were too far to call out to without shattering the silence that held us, and my feet were unable to even turn toward you. I felt a great brooding waiting all around. The sound of the sea stopped as if the waves had frozen and stilled, the mist soft and clinging, No movement, no sound nothing but this fine and fragile connection between us as thin and bold as a look.

    A breeze stirred and I saw your tracks leading to your perch there on the rocks, saw them lead up across a dune saw the wooden steps and then the bulk of a house set above the beach and a figure making its way down to join you. The breeze stirred, the mist rose, the waves brushed the shore and retreated, the sun broke through and in the sudden dazzle I blinked and our moment was gone.

    I heard your companion call to you and watched you turn away. Saw your hair swing and hide your face, watched that rapt and deep intent fade inward, saw your shoulders square and lift and knew the effort this simple movement cost. And as one released I stepped off down the beach again, off and away.

    Along the beach I stopped here and there to pick up stones that caught my eye. Twisted pieces of driftwood polished and salt silver, and all that day I carried the encounter with me as well returning to it again and again like the smooth and polished stones in my pocket to trace the shape and feel again, to know once more the sense of being found and recognized, of being known.
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