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In Over My Head

Sink or Swim

By Cathy SchieffelinPublished 7 months ago Updated 6 months ago 5 min read

The sand burns my feet. My instinct is to run on tip toe – get off the sand – into water. I fight the urge – searching for my inner warrior to withstand the pain, even burning pain. I want to be one of those wise souls who walks over hot coals or withstands Arctic cold wearing nothing but a look of contentment. Earth’s elements can't crush me. I want to be a part of them... to feel their intensity and immensity. I welcome discomfort.

The water’s edge brings relief. Cool sand sticks to my feet. Shore birds dive and dance among the waves. My hair takes flight, like the birds, doing its own tango. No one for miles. I wade into the ocean, feeling the tidal pull of waves on my body. Salt on my tongue reminds me of the brininess of his skin. Sea salt is an excellent condiment for sun kissed skin, and his was exquisite.

We sat on this beach last night – watching stars light up the darkening sky, one by one. I hadn’t seen him in three years. We parted ways when I moved across the globe and he stayed here, running a fishing charter. He’d a knack for finding the best fishing holes – remote coves and inlets. We spent afternoons, secluded in his boat, catching trout or bass and fucking. His hands were rough, the kind of hands that could fillet a fish in two minutes – scales and all. I loved his smell, even after a day spent fishing when he smelled of the things he’d caught – guts and all.

In over my head - my grand adventure was a fail. Back home now, tail between my legs. Right now, as I float on my back, taking in the cloudless sky, I want do dive into the abyss of him again – his crushing weight. The air up here is too breezy and easy. Don’t want to be blown around like a rudderless sailboat. I crave submersion…

In his arms, I felt the lunar flux of desire. Desire’s what we’re good at. It’s the other stuff we couldn’t manage. Tried living together. Disaster. Fighting and yelling – tempers running hot. Channeled our anger and hunger into nights I’ll never forget. Indelible marks left on one another. I rub the small scar on my inner thigh - love bite gone too far. Drinking and messing around. He liked it rough. I’d bait him – see how far I could push him. My mistake.

Now I float, wishing I could change our chemistry. Our ions over-charged and explosive. Untamable. Can he subdue his response? Not happy unless we’re burning it all down. I like a bonfire. No man made me feel as primal or wanted.

I float, feeling the sun on my face. Something beneath me – grabs me. It’s him, tugging off my bikini bottoms. He’s strong and aroused despite the cold water. I feel his erection pressed to my backside. I turn and lick his collarbone, savoring his salinity. His hands grab me, ruthless and rough, tormenting, as he bites my breast. Panting, gasping…. he carries me onto the beach where he continues what he started. Sand has found its way into every crevice .. Licking as I buck and thrash. He enters me and we fuck with three years worth of pent-up rage and lust.

I lose my bikini in the ocean and have nothing to wear. He laughs at my predicament. He’s always gotten sick pleasure from my embarrassment. He hops up and brings me a towel. Just as I’m wrapping up, he pulls the towel away and bites my nipple, hard. Bounding up, he flees, taking the towel with him, laughing. Fuck.

Stunned but not surprised. This is why we don’t work. We’re not exactly nice to each other. I look out and see my bikini bottoms tumbling in the waves.

I need to end this. Nothing has changed. Our quiet evening on the beach the other night wasn’t real. This is real – bruises and bites and soul sucking solitude.

I find my phone and he’s texted wondering if I want to meet for drinks later.

Sure, I text back. What time?

Soul sucking solitude.

No response.

I should pack up and leave. Can’t let him have the last word.

Garcia’s, 7 p.m.?


I hop in the shower, sudsing up with expensive body wash I’d purchased on a whim. I smell like almond oil and gardenias. I look down and see the purple bruise, tender. Marked again.

I throw on ripped jeans and a light cotton strappy top the color of my eyes. I put a few things in a bag, knowing I’ll likely spend the night with him, but who knows where. I towel dry my unruly curls. He likes grabbing my hair – sometimes he’s gentle, usually not. He likes to see fear in my eyes. It gets him off. Sometimes I fake it for him, but lots of times, I’m not sure he can pull himself back.

“You come on big when you’re feelin’ small…” Nanci Griffith sings

I hop in my sky blue Mini. I’ve kept the top down while I’ve been here. I put it up, after I’ve locked up the cottage. Not sure when I’ll get back. I head to Garcia’s. I see him standing outside, talking to a woman who’s familiar. He laughs with her in a way he never does with me. He’s gentle with her, as he gives her a hug. I stop and stare, insides unravelling. His eyes don’t have the sharp edges I see when he looks at me.

I pull through the parking lot, put the top down and drive west. Time to find a new swimming hole.


About the Creator

Cathy Schieffelin

Writing is breath for me. Travel and curiosity contribute to my daily writing life. I've had pieces published in Adanna Lit Jour. and Halfway Down the Stairs. My first novel, The Call, comes out in 2024. I live in New Orleans.

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