I am finally at peace. For the moment, anyways. The warm sun shines its golden rays down onto my face, heating my chilled disposition. I sigh, as though my tension was tangible and I could force it out of me through the air. Dragging my hands slowly over the sand, I marvel at its gritty texture. Small, wet clumps cling to my fingers, moist from frothy seawater.
I watch the tide come in, moving ever closer to my resting spot. A new wave breaks, and the sea races up to greet me, tickling my toes with cool water. It seems to be playing a game. In. Out. Forward. Back. How far can it go before it is forced to retreat? I watch it with amusement, enjoying the cool contrast of the water on my sun-flushed skin.
As I look out to the horizon, I see the distant specks of gulls flying free, the wind billowing under their wings. They swoop down, low over the sapphire blue water. Calling softly to one another, they dance in the sky.
In the background, behind the playful gulls, the sun begins to set. It slowly descends into the water, pausing only to paint the scattered clouds magnificent colors. Brilliant hues fill the air. Reds, oranges, mellow violets and vivid pinks are brushed across the sky in a glorious symphony of color; the sun's last stand of the day.
As the sun sinks into the depths of the ocean, night comes to claim the beach. I sigh, shivering and resolving myself to leave my haven.
A loud noise sounds in the distance. I blink, and my paradise disappears. I find myself propped up against a dingy brick wall, with a view of a dilapidated, filthy street. I look around slowly, taking in my surroundings. A woman is lying motionless across the street, in a large pool of blood.
I was so caught up in my daydream; I wasn't aware of what was going on around me. I rush across the street, cursing myself for being so careless. I shouldn't become so lax, living on the streets in this part of town. I kneel down beside the body, careful not to get the crimson blood on my already soiled clothing. Viewing the bullet hole in horror, I identify the sound I heard before. I carefully reach for her neck, to check for a pulse. I find none, for my hand passes straight through. Walking around to look at the woman, a feeling of cold horror sinks in the pit of my stomach. I finally notice my translucent appearance, as I stare at the all-too familiar face staring blankly back.