Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
Allow yourself to enter my shoes for the intent of my letter. Smell the warm salt in the air. No, I don’t mean pretend. I want you to inhale the molded stratosphere in front of your sneeze stained monitors or mobile phones and taste the bitterness. Trust that the salt is there if you let it be.
You’re sixteen and sweating through Summer break.
It is hot. Even for two AM at the beach, it is Goddamn hot as hell. You have heard about shark sightings late at night at the Jersey Shore. You know that’s when they feed. But right now that isn’t a second thought.
You gasp for bitter beats of breath as young feet pound the hot sand ahead. It kicks up and gets in your eyes, but you don’t mind it this time.
There’s a beauty of a girl five feet ahead that just poured cold water down those converted gym shorts.
She turns back to smirk and it’s a toothy one with pearly whites shining bright. Uncle Miles always said to find a girl that made her whole mouth move for a smile. You’ve caught up in seconds. You reach out and pull down bright white panties in exact revenge. She laughs and slaps your hand away as she falls sideways into the waves of water. The thong floats up as she mocks a scream, splashing it away as soon as you jump into the chilly depths.
Megan has this force of habit, a curious condition… when those long brown curls get pulled at by the wind – she drags them back and dips her head real low with a sly grin. That look is enough to set your body on fire. You pounce through the waves, like a seal, setting yourself on top of her with every emotion and angst held in check by days in the classroom and dinner with Mom and Dad. When you kiss her neck… it tastes salty and sugar-coated all at the same time and you try to find the words to describe it but you fail with every stupid little line.
There’s a song on your radio back on the beach by Radiohead. She dips her hair back into the waves and sings it so sweet as your fingers struggle with wet knitted knots and strings.
“Two jumps in a week
I bet you think that’s pretty clever
Megan pushes your head down the smooth skin of her chest and then underwater. You gasp for air and come to the surface to coughs and giggles from the girl.
The first pull from the beast happens after the next verse.
“Don’t leave me high…”
When she first dips under you think its part of the game, part of the song. You grab her under the arms and pull; only to find resistance. Your eyes dash across the dimly lit coastline for help and find none.
You feel something sharp scrape against the bottom of the feet and it just does not make sense.
You can count every second you were in the water. It was only a few. Every moment is monumental and magnetized by a teenage boy falling in love and you feel like nothing can go wrong on a night so weighed down by beauty.
After pulling her arms more, something breaks free and she shoots to the surface with horrible, necrotic screams. The leg has been ripped off at the seams.
“Shark,” she gasps, but you already know. Blood floods the water like an embryo.
You think… maybe we can still get to shore. You reach a long leg to the depths below and kick, sending a blow home to the top of the massive animal feasting on the discarded limb below. The scales cut into your skin and soon you are bleeding too. You wrap your arm around Megan like a vice grip and kick for shore before the resistance starts again. She screams again pitifully as the other leg finds more saw-like teeth in the deep.
You pull. Like a dog holding onto its favorite toy, the beast balks and drags her further. For some strange fucking reason, the last words Megan speaks from those sweet sixteen-year-old lips are –
“I love you.”
Before she’s sucked into the sea like a ShopVac.
You scream and slap your way to the coast and stand up, looking for disturbances in the still ocean you can swim to. But there are none. You run for the cell phones on the beach. When the hot sand kicks up against wet feet, you mind it this time.
You see Megan’s cell sitting there silent. There’s a picture of you two from earlier that day. You pull up 911 and the Coast Guard and every motherfucker that can search the beach to find your girl, but it is too late. She is gone. Dead and gone.
The date is June 19th, 2018.
You are seventeen and you know its not right to pretend. Its been one year since the attack. Your mom knows you love her and so do your friends. You have this letter that you just don’t know how to send. But you know how it needs to end.
It will be two AM when you wade into the still icy cold water alone. There’s been a sighting of Mary Lee the Great White off the coast of Sandy Hook. They track the sharks now, and it doesn’t matter if its the same one. When the scales slip underneath your feet you won’t mind. Maybe you will once again hear Megan sing that stupid Radiohead song so sweetly. Give it time.
Maybe Mary Lee will rise from the sea and finally set you two kids free.