They made love in the dunes by the old Air Force base—gone the war games there, gone the men who played them. Miles of high dunes, as in old films where some sunburnt Brit garbed in white has come to set things straight.

For years the young man had passed them—she had, too—he in his gray car, she in her red. They met one night at a blues bar, had their first date on a weekday.

Was it hard to get the day off? he asked.

Don’t have it off. Had to switch shifts.

What’d you tell them?

She looked at him.

I told them I ached. That knocked him back, & for a long time he was mute as they walked those dunes, turned once in a while to see their tracks. They chose a smooth dune to spread their quilt on.

This sea’s too blue, she said, as they laid out their food, poured the red wine, leaned back.

This is an old bomb range, you know, he said. They’ve cleaned it up, but I bet if we looked hard we could find some shells.

So how would the headline read, she asked: “Two Felled by Sheathed Shells at the Seashore?” I’ll pass. But I guess if you make a pass at me…

Late that day he said You know, I could just stay, end my life right here, let gulls pick me clean, let sand blow past my bones for years, and I’d be gone—all of me, gone. I mean, don’t you just feel it? The thrill of it?

Oh, for Christ’s sake, she said. I’m late for work.

They picked up their things, found their tracks, walked back to the car.


Gerald Fleming is the author of One (Hanging Loose Press, 2016), The Choreographer (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2013), Night of Pure Breathing (Hanging Loose Press, 2011), and Swimmer Climbing onto Shore (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2005). He lives in California.