Something had made her stay.
The call of her humdrum job cutting lengths of fabric and of two likeable if slovenly roommates in an untidy apportioned suburb had not been loud enough. A relationship not so much on the rocks as fully shipwrecked had not been loud enough. Her one-time companions imploring her to head back east with them had not been loud enough.
This was loud. This place. Painted a safe watercolour veneer over hallucinatory light. Where the beat of life drummed deep within the marrow of the land. This land. This place. With its incessant rush and rumble of tides across mist-draped miles of satin blond sand and the restless receding hiss; its storm-stunted forests whose edges leaned ragged and coerced on promontories; these wispy echoes of a world pre-settled; those scents of tangish salt and sweetish cedar; eddies and flukes, spawn and breach, fat tangerine starfish, driftwood bleach, clustered shellfish; brackish secrets of orca and sockeye, coho and squid, slipping slick through the chuck as skinless muscles; great tawny bays flanked by dark masses of dripping beams trailing mosses like the beards of truant gods; vast spruce posts and struts and torrential canopied ceilings, immense sweatlodge dwellings for bear and raven and eagle and wolf, framed and fashioned by no man and heedless of same.
A poet of sorts, she was humbled to silence by the indigenous poetry of locale.
But now she was isolate. Something had sequestered them here. A fear hush had wrapped them just as the mists became sometime cauls for the trees.
Her beachfire pulsed in the tideborne gusts, and sparks were whipped and buffeted and streamed to join the effervescent stars in the forthright arc of the overbearing sky.
She stood. She was lonely. She was hungry, in truth, and something about that brought her shame. That she was so utterly unwomanned. Diminished. Five feet ten of corvid-black enviable beauty reduced to a hanging jaw and knees that would barely lock.
We are blunted spears riding the pactless gales of a livid world, tumbling enfeebled from stentorian skies into breeding swamps of buzzing unchecked swarms absent treaty or terms. If an ending is in store, and soon, what of hundreds of years of white-skinned settlement and tens of thousands of far kinder years before that? Of carvers and surfers, of fishers and loggers and holy dancers under the greying brows of both lucid and baffling skies. Did the land dream us? Are we part of a long slumber from which greater sleepers are already set to awake?
She'd noticed two men and a woman earlier, and they seemed to her kindly, but she could no longer see them, and staring so nakedly at everyone on the beach made her urgency more shameful, more needy. Around the closest fire sat three men and she thought they'd been stealing not so benevolent glances at her. Or glances of a different nature. But they were people.
As she stood, a meteor bisected the big spill of the Milky Way above, flashing like mercury from east to west at the speed of an eyeblink. She imagined it hissing into the dark Pacific, some solitary birdless place where our world's face showed nothing but ocean to outsiders, as lonely in its brisk and sudden finale as it was throughout most of its existence, unable to relate its first-person tales that spanned an eon or more, and dying companionless in cold saltwater on this strange convulsing planet orbiting an unremarkable star on some dismal limb of the galaxy.
Enough. She would walk. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream or plead, but she wouldn't. The surf kept rushing, crashing, as if everyone exhaled but no one remembered to breathe in.
She would walk and talk to the men at the next fire, and if that made her a fool then a fool she would be.