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Encounter By The Sea
by Rumjhum Biswas

He stood at the peak of the sand dune surveying the world around him. Far above, a gauzy blue sky shimmered. A briny breeze gently rocked his body. And if the slight heaving beneath his feet unsettled him, he did not show it.

She felt the heaving too, a sort of rhythmic rise and fall of the sand beneath as she watched him from the top of the dune directly opposite. His body was taut and alert. He seemed to be scanning the horizon for something that was not immediately visible, but he knew it was there. She knew it too, and like him could not quite place it. The tension flowed between them like a bowstring ready to be strung.

Beyond their immediate surroundings the sun burned cheerfully. The sand was dry and crumbly on the surface, but was cool and soothing just a few grains below; the kind that puts a spell on a body and lulls it to a point when even thoughts flow in slow motion. The sea lapped playfully yonder, blowing pleasantly moist sprays every now and then.

When he finally saw her, she could tell that he was just as excited.

Discarding their cautious posture, they both started to move simultaneously, stopping every once in a while to survey their surroundings. There was a busy feel about them, as if neither had ever experienced the languor of a summer's day.

It was sand and sand all around, yellow and white, glittering here and there, except to the front of them. There the topography was sand less, built of an unknown mass that nonetheless smelt inviting. The topography before them dipped and rose again. There seemed to be caves there too, a pair of caves. A small wind whistled through it. It was strange terrain. The odor coming from that direction was sort of sugary. Intrigued and mutually attracted, they quickened their pace.

Just then, the ground beneath them shook violently. They tumbled and fell in a heap along with a shower of dry and wet sand. They tried to get back to their feet, but another avalanche of sand sent them tumbling even further down, until they were lost to each and the only thing they could both respond to individually was how to escape this sudden unforeseen danger.

"Eek!" shrieked the woman, and got up in a hurry. "Ants!"

She scrambled to her feet, scattering sand, and knocking over the glass which still held its straw like a crooked cigarette. The glass rolled a little to the right and a little to the left, spilling out its juicy contents on to the beach, before finally coming to rest at her feet.

"I told you," said the man, lying on his stomach on the beach towel beside her. "You can't bury yourself in sand and have your lemonade too!"

He flicked off the sand that she had scattered into his face, but otherwise didn't budge. As for the mates that might have been, too many sand grains stood between them and their desire, but they still had the sugary scent about them. Which was a lot more than what the man and the woman had.