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  • The beach was postcard-picture-perfect, all heat and turquoise and blinding white sand. On a Monday afternoon there were a maybe thirty people in the water , turistas and locals both.

    I threw on my swimsuit in the parking lot and crossed the grass and beach that separated me from the water. Once the water reached my waist I started to swim, stretching one arm in front of the other, legs kicking out behind me. I didn't put my face in the water, keeping my eyes open; each turn of my head was somebody's version of paradise. The water stayed calm and clear as I swam past groups of friends splashing one another, shrieking. Snorkelers floated alongside the rocks lining the mouth of the cove; so close to the open ocean I was glad for their companionship, however loose.

    My friends changed and made their way to the beach. I swam back, lazy, flipping from my belly to my back as I went. Anchoring the loose corners of a triangle, we lay on top of the water and listened to the low bass of surf on sand. Like a heartbeat. Slow, steady, deep.

    Nearer the shore, fish swirled around our legs and swam in close to inspect the fingers we extended. Blue and yellow and silver flashing in the shallows, some the size of my hand and others so small they disappeared in the shifting water. One split from its school to inspect us, darting in and out of our shadows. A rainstorm blew through, dancing freshwater on the surface of the ocean. Everything was warm, even the wind. I turned my face up and kept treading water.

    My skin was red when we left, and for the first time in months my heart was empty. Light. I tasted salt. I tasted peace.
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