You emerge from the sea and walk up the beach to the house above in the dunes, naked and salt-stinging fresh from your swim, a damp towel wrapped around your shoulders.

On the Spanish flagstone patio in front of the house you find your friends, frozen motionless where you left them. Their backs are hunched like mating pigs as they lean in close together, each of them perched precariously on the edge of their wicker chairs. It is as if they are examining the blueprint of some conspiracy laid out upon the low table in front of them. They aren’t moving, and they aren’t breathing either.
You leave them there and go into the house. The bare white walls of the rooms inside are cold. You light candles before you dry off and dress, and as you walk around the silent rooms you watch your reflection in all of the mirrored surfaces, ready to catch a glimpse of some shadowy figure lurking in the corners of your vision.

When you return to the patio you find your friends exactly as you left them. You sit a little bit apart from the frozen group and watch the tide recede as the sun rises.

You begin to think that if only they’d come swimming with you this might not have happened. Or perhaps had you heeded their advice and not gone swimming alone in the darkness all would be as it was before.

November 14, 2017