The Beach

On the last day of the world, the man awoke smoothly.

He climbed out of bed, wrapping a terrycloth robe around himself.  His bare feet padded softly on the floor as he made his way downstairs.

He passed through the kitchen without pause.  He didn’t need to eat.  In the front hallway, he paused only to select a windbreaker from the closet.  The wind was already picking up outside, howling past the house.

The man stepped outside through the front door, strolling across the grass.  His bare feet crunched in the dew, still half-frozen on the green blades of grass.  His feet were chilled by the cold air, but he paid them no mind.

The pliant crunch of grass yielded to the rough ridges of concrete as the man continued.  He made his way along the path, paved with poor concrete imitations of tiled cobblestone.  The wind whipped at his hair and the edges of his robe, and the man was grateful when he passed in the shadows of buildings, temporarily shielded from the elements.

The sun still hadn’t fully risen, and the world was draped in shadow.  The pathway beneath the man’s feet became rough wood for a short period, as he crossed the foot bridge over the marsh.  The wood scraped at his soles, threatening to leave splinters, but the man was careful not to drag his feet.  The rope handrails of the bridge creaked as he passed.

The bridge sloped down, gently depositing his feet in the sand of the beach.  The man stepped lightly to avoid sinking in to the soft sand.  He continued in his path, gazing ahead at where the faintest hint of light and color protruded above the horizon.

As he drew closer to the water, the sand became harder, caked together and solid beneath his toes.  The man continued, only occasionally glancing down to avoid the sharp piles of shells.  The sound of the ocean was now a near-constant rush.

The man finally reached the boundary between sand and water, where the caked sand was still damp and briny.  The pounding waves slowed to a frothy trickle just shy of his feet.  The man stood there for a long time as the sun rose, gazing out past the end of the world.

Standing at the edge of the world on the last day, the man watched and waited, a slight smile hiding around the corners of his face.

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