Ran Walker

India On a Distant Shore

Morgan leaned against the hood of her beat-up Honda Accord, what was left of her cigarette dangling between her callused fingers. The ocean lay out before her, endless, just beyond the boardwalk and the damp cold sand.

She went there to think when the weight of her thoughts grew too heavy for her friends and family. The water, so majestic and wide, seemed to be the only thing strong enough to endure her problems. If such a thing could keep an aircraft carrier afloat, then surely she would not drown beneath the weight of her pain.

Or so she hoped.

She took another pull on her cigarette and flicked it into the wind. She had promised herself she would not cry, had even pulled back the dreadlocks from her face so there would be no curtain to hide behind. Yet, there she was, a quiet stream of moisture parting the dryness of her cheeks, her vision kaleidoscopic.

She hated when she, on random and isolated instances, allowed herself to fall for confused women, women who through midnight post-orgasmic exhalations told her they loved her, held her a bit more tenderly than necessary, and promised the whole of their hearts—until the sun rose above their sheets and the daylight revealed their insecurities.

Morgan could indulge the occasional fling with a woman looking to experiment, but only if the word love never came up. What was the deal with people using that word so lightly, as if it were a feather one might use to tickle someone, then put away?

India was supposed to be different—and for a while she was. She was not allergic to the sunlight or people pretending not to stare. She danced in the rays of Morgan’s affection, often tracing Morgan’s face with her thin, smooth fingertips as Morgan slept.

Morgan had withheld her heart, even in the face of such adoration, but India eventually wore her down.

As India held and massaged her hand one night, she said, “These hands are strong. They can fix machines that weigh five tons, yet they are so tender and gentle they can mend my heart.”

Morgan later admitted to herself it would have been difficult for even the most skeptical person to not yield to love at that point.

Love was air. It sometimes smelled of weed or cigarettes or sweat or chocolate chip cookies. It was safe and transparent—and even appeared endless, like the water before her now.

But even the water brushed up against another shore eventually. Foreign sand or a muddy bank somewhere. Charles had been the other shore, the familiar banks against whom India’s waves had crested.

There weren’t words in any language to muffle such devastation.

There was only the water, the heavy tide slamming against the jagged stones framing the sand, a sheet of saltwater mist spraying onto the boardwalk.

Morgan imagined the salt-tinged moistness on her lips was the sweet kiss of the ocean before her.

But she knew she was standing too far away.


Ran WalkerRan Walker is the author of fifteen books. A former practicing attorney, he now teaches creative writing full-time at Hampton University in Virginia. To find out more about Ran’s work, please visit his website.