Assateague Island looking north towards Ocean City, MD. Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library.
Assateague Island looking north towards Ocean City, MD. Photo courtesy of U. S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library.

We had no time to spare if my
Girlfriend and I were to spend the
Night on Assateague Beach, an Atlantic
Ocean barrier island, vulnerable to
Hurricanes and roaring seas that
Reshaped its sand-frail length and
Pounded its spindly breadth.

Hurriedly, we pulled blankets, sheets,
And pillows from the bed, shoving
Them into the camper on the pickup
Truck. Same for towels and warm
Clothes, piled in the camper, wherever
They would fit. We needed food:
Brownies, fruit, chips, diet sodas,
And red wine, essentials for
Impromptu beach-night assignation.

The clock ticking, we had 20 minutes
To reach the refuge before the gate
Dropped at 6 pm. It had thwarted
Us before. An impudent red-and-
White striped bar had deprived
Us of an ocean sunset and repelled
The full Crust Moon to horizons
Of a foreign shore.

Tonight, no stars or oblate moon
Illuminated the darkening air. All but
Abandoned, the evening beach was a
Desolate strand imposed by scudding
Clouds and drizzle that sent camera-
Toting tourists scurrying to nearby
Restaurants and hotels. A few hardy
Shell seekers plodded the sandy
Isthmus, too distant to be a concern
For either us or them.

We pulled our truck off the road so
The camper opened to the sea. Like
Two clams inside our protective metal
Shell, we beheld the solemn roaring
Surf as wind-swept waves splashed us
With salt spray. We snuggled nakedly
In a lover’s cozy bed, tasting forbidden
Fruits of two women rapt in love,
A private orgy of ocean, wine, and wind.

Unable to resist temptation, the lure of
Skinny dipping at the beach, we risked
The frigid surf, running head-long into
The swelling depths. Repulsed, striking
Waters sent us tumbling to our knees.
In muted twilight, another wave,
Vengeful turbulence of grit and might,
Pulled my lover’s hand from my fleeting
Grip. Uttering garbled screams, she
Disappeared from sight.

Hysterical, my desperate cries brought
Flashlights advancing on the sandy
Road. In the nodding beams, I
Recognized the slender form in towel-
Wrapped modesty, white legs, salt-
Matted henna hair. Rip currents had
Swept my lover along the beach where
Beachcombers rescued her, cold and
Naked, from the surf.

Grateful she was alive, though
Shivering and blue, I offered them
Everything we had left: brownies,
Chips and diet sodas, too. They
Graciously declined our meager
Offerings, leaving us secluded in
Privacy for the night. Once within the
Warm protection of our camper,
I bundled her with blankets and
Pressed my salty body next to hers,
Tasting sweet jasmine that oddly
Graced her breasts.

“How are you? I asked. She still seemed
Cold and not quite herself. She hugged
Me softly and brought her blue lips
To my ear. “Please know that I will
Always love you. Tonight was just an
Accident. I’m okay,” she reassured.
“The cold and pain are gone.”
Certain that she was better, we
Made love to the rhythm of the
Ocean, as waves gently embraced
Yielding amber slopes.

When sirens woke me the next
Morning, my lover was nowhere
To be found. Confused and crying,
I ran to the small crowd gathered
At the ocean’s edge. Surf fishers
Found the body of a young woman
Face-down in the surf and draped
Her with a towel. When I saw her
Flowing henna hair, I realized
That my lover drowned last night
And beachcombers returned to me
A ghost.

An early March coast storm on Assateague Island over-washes the dunes.
An early March coast storm on Assateague Island over-washes the dunes.

 

 

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