And as I stared out at the gulf, through the night air, and out to a dim horizon that appeared infinite, it occurred to me that the world is vast, and I have spent my entire life until now living as though it was small—making it small. Small dreams, modest jobs, infinitesimal relationships—doomed before they could even begin. And all the while, I felt that something large was my destiny. I have been drawn to it my whole life, since I was a little girl. I’d sit on bows of boats out in the bay and know that a huge plan, with a precise syzygy was laid out for me, but I never did find it. The allure was strong, but I could never tell where that song was coming from—I never did have a very good sense of direction. I wonder if that’s what leads souls astray—they just couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag, so they just get stuck in the sand, exactly where they are. The formula for a career in telemarketing, I suppose.
Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin, just under the surface, and she felt a shiver—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain, and a release, an overwhelming sense of calm overtook her, and she fell to her knees on the soft white sand.
She found the strength to draw herself to her feet and make her way towards the beachside motel, and clung tightly to an old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t know since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.
About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.
Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.
No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, shrinking her evening gown onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Dawn was still hours away, but the hour was late enough that even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.
As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a silver Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.