She stared westward across the ocean as if she had never seen water or a sunset before. The colours were splayed across the atmosphere as if a higher being had taken cans of red and orange and purple paint, opened them, and merely splashed the paint out across the sky.
A pocket full of small stones resided in the pocket of her jeans. The waves ended their encroachment on the sand mere inches away from where her bare feet stood, granules of the fine particles slowly covering her toes. She took a stone out from her pocket.
Three skips. That was it. She side armed it as best she could but on the third hop across the water, the stone she had thrown crashed head first into a wave and ended its journey across the surface. She took out another stone.
She sighed and her shoulders heaved up and down as if they were lifting invisible weights.
A jet ski went by just beyond the nearest buoy, engine loud, water sprayed upwards out its back, mild up and down jaunting as it coasted across the uneven surface. She thought the wind in her hair would have felt amazing at that speed. Instead she settled for the light breeze that brought the smell of salt and a rapidly decaying late summer September warmth to her nose.
She used to come here with her best friend, Sofia, they'd skip rocks and look for handsome boys and guess their names and joke about saying "hi" only to never do so. Sofia could skip her rocks eight, nine, ten times, they'd hop over the waves and seemingly float never-endingly, as if in a hurry to escape the shore, the town, everything, go across the ocean and land somewhere else, somewhere new, where the grass wasn't necessarily greener but was a different shade of it.
Sofia carried a sadness with her when they were done, and the car ride back home on the rural two-lane highway at dusk would be silent, windows down, sad, somber music blaring out the speakers, a mutual understanding between them that didn't need vocalization. They were getting older. They could feel it in their bones. And while nobody would call them old they knew time was finite and the days of being young and pretty and desirable, as women, were becoming a distant part of their past.
Sofia took it worst. There were things out of her control, family issues, job issues, relationship issues, and the ever-present reality of aging. She began talking less. Smiles became a rarer commodity. Phone calls and texts went unreturned. So three years ago, she decided she had enough, and she never woke up again. Never skipped rocks again. Never joked about handsome boys again. It was over.
The sun was almost entirely below the horizon at this point. It was too cold this time of year for swimmers, for shirtless guys, for kids laughing and parents smiling and cameras flashing.
She had one rock left. She took it out of her pocket and ran her hand along the smooth surface, the pastel grey colouring echoing a sentiment she often shared when she returned here. It was never quite the same without Sofia. The smiles and laughter and lust they shared now bottled up and tucked away forever into a memory that would slowly but surely become more faint as time marched on. She took one last look at the ocean, then, and closing her eyes, side-armed one last throw into the water. She didn't know how many times it skipped. It didn't matter.
One last sigh, and she returned to her car. She pulled out of the parking lot, and the last sliver of sun, the last reflection of light off the ocean, disappeared in her rear-view mirror behind her, never to return again.