Flash Fiction: The Beach

The prompt for this month is to use all five of the following words in a story: sand, sea, cartwheels, tequila, and sunburn. Today’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords. (Watch for her next book of short stories, out soon!)


Waves of Darkness

Kay watched waves cartwheel onto the shore. Shivering and wishing she had a tissue, she swiped at grey hairs matted in tears. If she wore a sweater, she’d have one stuck up her sleeve. Sleeves came in handy, both for proximity of tissues and warmth.

She was slowly dying. As everyone was. Who knew when a vehicle might zoom around the corner. Or when that madman might appear.

Or when God would call.

The doctor gave her a year, but she figured that meant six months, even less if the cancer spread faster. Who but God could say with certainty?

Kay believed in God. With death looming, she had to. Suddenly, God was her best friend. God won’t take kindly to that, she thought, upset she hadn’t spent more time with Him, but perhaps He wouldn’t forsake her. Despite being a late bloomer, maybe He’d let her enter His kingdom, even though it wouldn’t be fair to decades-old believers.

It couldn’t be easy being one of God’s chosen creatures—to be continually good and kind. Was it all a façade? Kay didn’t know any perfect people, not ones who would be granted immediate access to Heaven. But that was hogwash; everyone religious spouted goodness, despite how they truly felt. Then there were the atheists and those in between, like her, who believed in something though unsure exactly what.

Could God read minds? Kay had never vocalized she didn’t believe, never said she did either. Her thoughts were her secrets, but a true God would be powerful enough to see through her.

Kay possessed no special powers, but her mind had always wandered into the future and wondered “what ifs.” She had never seen herself older than today, which made sense because there would be no tomorrow. She spoke metaphorically. She hadn’t seen this exact day, but she had never seen herself older than the present, never saw a frail woman in a rocker or limping with a cane. Had she truly been clairvoyant, she could have lived differently. She might have eaten healthier, trashed alcohol and cigarettes, prevented sunburns.

The sun. She glanced up, her eyes blinded. Cancer, horrid dreaded cancer—that big C of concern. Funny how she’d never been touched (as the phrase goes) by cancer as others had, yet, here she was, struck down with it herself. Not a friend or a relative—her.

Kay approached the water’s edge. Could she do it? She should have guzzled the remainder of the tequila. The little she drank wasn’t having much effect.

She pictured Frank relaxing before the television. “I’m going for a walk,” she had told him. Frank didn’t seem to care. I love you, she mouthed as she left.

She hadn’t told him of her diagnosis. She didn’t want sweaty hand-holding or sweet smelling flowers—none of which would dull her pain or cause happiness. She wanted to run far away to escape her plight. Or scream. The beach was deserted. No one would hear.

The ice cold water would be invigorating, perhaps knock some sense into her. But, no. Today was it. The end of her life. She sighed. Could she do it?

Wind blew the delicate top layer of sand across her bare feet. The sea’s song pounded at her ears. Menacing waves frothed onto the beach and darkened the sand. Each wave reminded her of a petal: he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me….

Kay had been alone with the doctor when she received the prognosis. Frank wasn’t home when she returned. When Frank arrived, she didn’t want to rehash her tears. I’ll tell him later, she thought. Later hadn’t come. Until now. This was her later. Frank’s, too, though he’d have a future later.

“I must do it now,” Kay muttered. I can’t put Frank through this agony. Nor me. I want to go quickly.

She glanced back at the cottage. With summer over, it looked as dead as she felt.

White caps bounced in the distance. She’d only have to reach one to be carried to oblivion. She dipped her toe into the frigid water, then stumbled in. Just to my waist, she thought. Just a few more feet.

When the water reached her knees, she was suddenly yanked backward. A voice bellowed, “What are you doing?”


“Kay, you crazy! It’s cold in here.”

Frank grabbed hold of her. Kay struggled, but Frank held her tight while he dragged her to shore.

“It’ll be okay,” he said.


The Spot Writers – our members:


RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie



Kathy L. Price

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