He closed his eyes and let the sound of the ocean wash over him. The salt air tickled his nose and threatened to make him sneeze. It was the cool breeze that made his eyes melt as they were doing. Turning away from the living water he gazed down the length of the beach. There he could see a boy.
The boy was fifteen, almost a man. He strode with an air of cockiness, a girl following coquettishly behind. Weaving between his legs was a honey coloured border collie. The boy pulled off his shirt, baring his pubescent muscles and ran into the water. An obvious attempt to impress the girl he was with.
The puppy yapped, interfering with the constancy of the pulsing waves.
The man sat, ignoring the damp rocks, a smile twitching on his lips.
The boy swam. The puppy yapped. The young girl shifted from foot to foot in the shallows. The puppy leapt over the shore break and swam towards his owner.
The boy saw the puppy approaching and appeared to panic and swim towards the shore. A rip tugged at him.
Through his stinging eyes he could see the girl walking, scooping up shells, not even glancing his way. He began to swim across, as to avoid the pull of the rip, but he could see the puppy splashing towards him, struggling to keep his little head up.
He should have listened to his mother. The puppy was too young to go out for long walks. He had wanted to impress her; the girl now ignoring him. It had worked too. She thought the puppy was “so cute” and eagerly agreed to walk the deserted beach with him.
Against his better judgement he again swam towards the shore, towards the small creature. His small creature. The current was unkind to his attempts. He was tiring and could feel his body getting heavy. He floated on his back, salt water lapping at his eyes and mouth. He could no longer hear the yapping. His heart beat fast, pounding in his ears. He found enough energy to move his head around. The puppy still came, determination fixed on his little bedraggled face. The boy broke out from his hopelessness and found the strength to swim towards the puppy, knowing that he needed him. Knowing that they needed each other.
Barely keeping his head above the water the puppy reached the boy, clawing at him for help. There in the calm of the deep, the boys cockiness evaporated as he nuzzled the panting face of his newest best friend.
The man closed his eyes. He did not remember the girls name, but the puppy’s name whistled through the air. He stroked the sandy tennis ball that he had been holding, stood up and with an almost unearthly groan, threw the ball into the sea.
Shoving his shaking hands into the depths of his pockets, the man strode away.