The Halloween Project 2020 - Story 8: Colbalt Blue
Here is beach story number two. A touch more disturbing than the previous tale. Despite all it's beauty, appeal and draw, the ocean remains a mystery.
The ocean always called to Maggie. Today as the waves rumbled on their steady cadence, it seemed to repeat, "Maggie. Maggie. Maggie."
"Maggie!" Her grandmother called from thirty yards away. They were deeply involved in their grandmother/Maggie beach activity, collecting sea glass. Maggie now 11 scoured the beach with her grandmother ever since she could walk. She waved and hurried down the beach. "Granny! What did you find?" Maggie asked.
"Well, take a look," her grandmother replied, a touch of enthusiasm hinted in her voice. She opened her left hand to reveal a small pile of sea glass. Softened by years of tumbling wave and sand the edges had lost all sharpness. Some were smoky, some clear, a few tinier than a single pea, some the size of a quarter. The vast majority, as always, were amber colored, the remnants of beer bottles long gone. Next came white, and finally, green.
"Oh, Granny, that's great! We can add these to our collection!" Her enthusiasm tripled her grandmother's. "Look, I found some too!" as she opened her hand. There rested a half dozen exquisite pieces of glass.
"Maggie, how wonderful! They are beautiful. We'll absolutely add these to our collection. And look at this," she extended her right hand and opened it slowly. Revealed in perfect, deep, deep color was a blue piece of sea glass. Maggie just stared at the cobalt brilliance. She knew that blue sea glass only appeared about one in 300 pieces. She also knew that it came from odd sources like Noxzema bottles made in the 1950's or even old poison bottles, and, of course, Bud Light Platinum.
Granny rotated her hand slowly, the blue glass sliding into Maggie's upturned palm.
The seizure that struck Maggie the moment the glass touched her skin was later diagnosed as grand mal. Arms shot into stiffness, muscles bulged on her neck and carried down into her back. Veins on her forehead stood out like gyrating worms on a hard surface. Eyes rolled and she careened back, falling like a broomstick to the sand. Her grandmother screamed and screamed and people came running.
Eyes open wide Maggie saw a young man on a boat. Several men. They all held beers, blue in color. Many had fishing poles. An argument erupted, an actual fight. Men pushed and swore, tension exploded. One man, struck in the chest, teetered backward, ball cap flying off. He cantered, legs striking the gunwale and went overboard, a perfect cartwheel with arms and legs akimbo. The last sight in Maggie's mind was of a blue beer bottle arcing overhead into the ocean.
Ten years later, as a college graduation present from her parents, Maggie, along with two intense sorority sisters, took a week's vacation in Tortuga. They sun bathed all day, drank all afternoon and danced all night. The first four days were decadent fun.
The fifth afternoon Becky came running from the beach.
"Look what I found!" She blurted to the two girls, lounging by the Infinity pool.
Becky reached out, the closest girl being Maggie who raised her hand. A smooth-sided cobalt blue rounded piece of sea glass dropped into Maggie's hand.
The seizure, twice as severe as 10 years earlier, convulsed Maggie into a stiff, yet writhing, parody of youth. Her neck snapped back, the cords surrounding her throat expanding, knotted. Fingers seemed to crackle in impossible angles. She flapped back onto the chaise, unable to speak or gesture, eyes frozen open to the blue sky above. Both girls screamed in tandem.
Another ocean scene. A man hung from a mast high above, his body dancing as the rope around his neck tightened. Men below laughed, throwing bottles and other debris at the struggling figure. The ship rocked and buffeted by a sharp window rocked the rope as the man swung back and forth. One final spasmodic jerk and a bottle fell from a vest pocket to the deck below. One man picked it up and held it aloft for all to see. It was deep blue with a skull and crossbones imprinted in the glass. A loud shouting and curses erupted from the gathered men. The man holding the bottle looked at the men, nodded, and with a sturdy arm threw it overboard.
A decade beyond Maggie found herself on her honeymoon with Randall. She had opted for the Rockies or even Switzerland, but Randall insisted.
"A week on the big island?! Do you know what a dream it will be? Fun. 24/7 fun. And maybe a little..." His voice died off. Maggie smiled. "Or maybe a lot of..." He smiled back at her.
They had snorkeled three times already. Snorkel Joe's Kailua was becoming their favorite daytime stop. Maggie could now recognize yellow tangs, Moorish Idol, pufferfish and a host of others. Randall said he was going to rent a wave runner that afternoon. Maggie rested on the beach while he went to buy beers. He returned sporting four icy beers, two in each hand.
"Here. They're supposed to be delicious. A small, microbrewery, just down the road. I love the name, 'Maximum Wave'". The bottles were distinctly, deep, rich blue. Cobalt.
Maggie hesitated, turned and looked out to the sparkling ocean. Then she reached out and grasped the bottles in either hand. A tingling, electric sensation surged through her grip, into her fingertips and up her arms, fading just below her elbows. It remained there for a few seconds then faded like a light slowly dimming. She drank her beer. "This is really good," she said.
Just before dusk, Maggie, pacing the beach, was surrounded by police, firetrucks and rescue personnel. They had been searching the water off Snorkel Joe's for two hours.
Randall's body was found a mile and a half down the coast. A small coral reef just below the surface of the water crashed as well as crushed the jet ski. The only thing on Randall's body was in the pocket of his swimsuit. A smashed Maximum Wave bottle, resulted in a pocket full of sharp shards of glass. Blue glass. Cobalt blue.