Beach Day

By: Clara Moss

i’m floating on my back with 
sunscreen spread along my nose and 
water lapping against my shoulders. 
i should be focusing on
how the sun is warming me from the outside — in or
how my friends are splashing water over our goosebumped flesh but 
all i can feel is the dread unspooling in my stomach,
moving with the flow of water around me, 
winding up my throat and
threatening to break free in a shout or a whimper — 
i’m not sure which i’d prefer.
and i could focus on the feeling of
the sticky plastic tube on the back of my thighs, but 
instead i’m trying to decide if
i felt something smooth grasp my ankle, 
something as rough as bone-on-bone, 
passing as soon as i noticed.
i should hone in on
the terrible music blasting from far off speakers but 
i can remember the cover of a National Geographic, 
the gaping mouth of a massive shark,
framed by endless blue, on and on.
and i’m remembering that one youtube video that 
talked about the Mariana Trench and
animals that should’ve died with the dinosaurs. 
i know my fear stems from the not-knowing, 
watered with desperation pooling in my eyes, 
unfurling from the ground, from the ocean floor, 
cast in a sickly green light that
seems to be reflecting a shiny tooth behind me. 
but, no, my fear was bred in
a leaf that tangled in my toes and
a light shining off some black sunglasses, 
perched on a blonde head like
a grotesque bug just waiting and
when we wade back to shore,
retreat from the depths of blindness,
i’ll survey the wide expanse where
sky and ocean meet in hues of blue,
and swear i see a triangle peek through one wave,
taunting me with promises of
how little i know and
how easy it would be to swallow me.