The world curled in on itself as she approached. It exploded into fractal shards and rearranged itself once more when she said, “Hi.”
Ariel was standing there on the beach, the cold summer wind blowing through her hair and foretelling of the coming autumn. Cedar trees were scattered amongst the rocks of the cliff and all Ismail felt he could do was gasp and gulp. His mouth flopped open and he sagged a little, a fish clearly out of his depth. The corners of her mouth turned up just the smallest fraction, and a knowing look took over her eyes.
“What are you gathering today?”
Ariel pointed to the pile of jetsam around Ismail’s feet, “I don’t think the waves deposited those there.”
Ismail put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his feet, kicking the debris with his toe to show make it more presentable. “It’s just stuff.”
“I know it’s stuff, silly. But you’re always out here collecting it,” Ariel replied. “Why?”
In response, he squatted over his collection and motioned her forward. Ariel crouch in the sand and began sorting it with Ismail.
“I use it in my art.”
“Oh do you make sea-glass stuff to sell to tourists?”
Ariel pulled a piece of smooth and sandblasted jade from her pocket and held it out for Ismail. He reached forward hesitantly to take the glass from her. But the shift in weight sent him tumbling forward and into Ariel’s lap. His fingers missed her prize and ended up on her shoulder instead.
“Oh gods, I’m so so sorry!”
Ariel’s only response was to laugh loud and clear. Her joy sent her back onto her bottom and Ismail’s hand to her breast. This evoked an even louder laugh from Ariel as Ismail drew his hand swiftly back and turned bright red.
“I… I… I didn’t mean to.”
In between laughs Ariel said, “It’s no problem.”
Ismail busied himself with his collection while Ariel got her laughter under control. She had to wipe a tear from her cheek but ended up replacing it with sand. Around them the wind continued its course and the waves kept crashing.
Ismail looked up from his pile. “I use the drift wood and other burnable things.”
“I think you mean flammable.”
“I thought that only applied to things that are prone to catching fire, not all things that can be lit.”
“No, I’m pretty sure it means that,” insisted Ariel.
“Then why doesn’t paper have warnings on it?” countered Ismail.
“Well, whatever. It doesn’t matter.”
Ismail looked down, worry sliding across his face that he had finally annoyed her.
“So you do fire art.”
“Photography and some video actually.”
“Yeah, the sea salt adds some beautiful colors to the fire. You get greens and purples and different blues. They become more like the Aurora Borealis.”
Ariel picked up a length of soggy rope, “And this?”
Ismail put a hand out for it. He brought it close to his face and gave it a sniff as he ran his fingers along it. “Should work well. The nylon stuff doesn’t. But any hemp based stuff burns well if the fire’s hot enough.”
“Cool. You’ll have to show me.”
“Whenever,” Ariel said with a smile. She put out her hand to Ismail again, this time so her palm was vertical. Ismail raised an eyebrow then put his hand forward to shake hers. Ariel twisted her hand to lock it around Ismail’s pulled both of them up.
Standing the both brushed themselves clean on sand.
Ismail choked a little.
“You do it at night right, so it’s easier to photograph the fire?”
“Yes… Yes. Yes!”
Ariel smiled and set off down the beach. Ismail was left standing and stupefied over his collection.
“It’s a date then!” Ariel called back.
Today’s art is courtesy of Fany Passet from Paris, France.