Dunes dotted with beach grass and a crooked fence, partially buried by sand.
Two potbellied ponies, careful and silent, walk along the fence line. One chestnut, the other a gray dapple.
Two adults, seated on low beach chairs. A cooler sits between them. Behind, two ponies approach. Adult One reaches into the cooler, removes an aluminum can, a beverage, indeterminate; Adult One removes a bag of snack food, indeterminate, from the cooler, closes the lid of the cooler. Adult Two stretches its feet in front of it and opens a book. The ocean laps up the sand, licks Adult Two’s toes, recedes.
Birds run in the swash: plovers, gulls, a willet. The exoskeleton of a horseshoe crab washes onto the sand, tangled in sea grass. Six children are gathered approximately 250 feet to the north. To the south, four young adults sit with surfboards, looking out across the water.
Sea level. Wave height is reported at 2.5 feet. The wind blows from the west at 5 mph. High tide, receding. Humidity 65%, air temperature 87 degrees Fahrenheit, water temperature 73 degrees Fahrenheit. A black skimmer flies low over the water. A pair of peregrine falcons glide overhead, almost out of site. On the dune, hidden in the tall grass, a glossy ibis.
Two young adults stand in the water to their knees. Young Adult One carries a yellow disc. A third young adult flaps its arms and kicks rhythmically, swimming away from the other young adults.
Below, dolphins cut through a school of mackerel; the light of the sun, setting to the West, reflects off of their silver scales.
Adult Two puts a book down on top of the cooler. Adult one stands, removes its shirt, takes three steps forward, points toward the water. Pony One takes three steps forward, cautious, bows its head, picks at a tuft of grass, its eyes fixed on the cooler. Adult Two speaks, takes a drink from the can. Adult One speaks.
Adult Two picks up a backpack from behind its chair and removes a thick folder. Adult Two shows the folder to Adult One, who nods.
Pony One takes two steps toward them. Pony Two swats at flies with its tail but does not move.
Young Adult Three stops swimming, treads water, its body carried up and down in the network of waves; the current carries it slowly out. Young Adult One and Young Adult Two stand, the waves breaking at their knees; they watch Young Adult Three. Young Adult Two throws the yellow disc out. The disc lands eight feet short of Young Adult Three, who swims to retrieve it.
Adult Two sits, opens the folder. The Subject appears behind them; its head, then shoulders, then body emerge on a path cut through the dune leading to the beach. The Subject walks toward Adult One and Adult Two, rerouting in a wide arc around Pony One and Pony Two. Pony Two lowers its head; Pony One takes a step back.
Adult One opens the cooler. Pony One sniffs the air. The Subject pauses, looks out across the water.
Adult One removes an indeterminate number of papers from the folder, folds them, puts them quickly in the backpack. The Subject approaches. Adult Two stands.
The Young Adults take turns throwing the plastic disc. The current shifts. Young Adult Three begins to drift to the Northeast. Young Adult One dives into a breaking wave. The mackerel swarm deep into the water, out of site. A dolphin breaches the surface. The falcons above are no longer visible.
A plover scuttles northward, following the water line of a receding wave.
The Subject stands in front of the cooler, between Adult One and Adult Two, and faces them. Adult One speaks. Adult Two speaks. The Subject’s face cannot be seen.
Adult Two gives the folder to the Subject. The Subject opens the folder, flips through the paper, closes the folder.
To the north, a small boat carries an adult and a child, cuts its motor, and bobs approximately 40 feet from shore. To the south, an adult casts a fishing line into the water and begins to reel. The wind carries a kite out over the ocean.
Pony Two steps forward. Approximately fifteen feet separates Pony Two and the cooler. Adult Two opens the cooler, removes two cans, hands one to the Subject, opens the other, and drinks. Adult One speaks.
Pony One looks out across the ocean.
Below, the pod of dolphins swims through the rough water, breaching in turn, swimming through the now visible school of mackerel. The scales of the mackerel reflect the sun, low in the sky to the West.
Beyond the fence, beyond the dune and the beach grass, the roof of a building. Beyond the building, a feather of black smoke rises and diffuses.
The Subject is walking away, moving across the beach in a diagonal line toward the dunes, carrying the folder.
A series of waves pulse toward shore, breaking hard; Young Adult Two stumbles. Young Adult Three drifts farther out, struggling against the current, slapping at the water with frantic hands. Young Adult One calls out. Young Adult Three calls out.
Adult One looks out across the water and points. Adult Two jogs after the Subject. Adult One picks up the backpack, removes a phone, types something into the screen, then follows after Adult One.
Horse One approaches the abandoned cooler, noses it open, and begins to feed. Horse Two approaches. Adult One pauses, looks across the water. Adult Two runs across the dune after the Subject, no longer visible. Adult One looks at its phone, runs after Adult Two. The boat bobs in the water, drifting out. The wind pulls the kite out. The current pulls Young Adult Three farther out. A dolphin breeches.
The mackerel are no longer visible. Adult One is no longer visible. Adult Two is no longer visible. The Subject is no longer visible.