The waves swooped down on the beach, where Thora was lying with her head on the sand and her feet in the water. They crashed at her toes and dribbled and trickled up her calves. She stretched her arms out to either side, making an angel shape. A sand angel. She was a sand angel. Overhead the sun beat down brightly, making her eyes squint, the light playing and dancing in the corners of her vision. The waves crashed again and this time the water reached her knees. Clouds skirted across the sky, soft white shapes that were too far away to really see properly. She moved her arms again, the coarse sand chafing her newly pink skin. She would burn if she stayed out here much longer. Her mother’s voice resonated in the back of her head, a stern warning to stay out of the sun delivered with a kiss. She didn’t have to heed such warnings anymore. It was the surf’s turn to kiss her this time, as the water reached her thighs, covering the tops of her legs this time, caressing her with its cool hands. She continued to study the sky through her eyelashes. She guessed at what she couldn’t see. She couldn’t see clouds shaped like dinosaurs, she couldn’t see planets, she couldn’t see aeroplanes. She could see the shadow of a man stood above her. She lifted one of her angel wings, placed a hand horizontally against her brows and opened her eyes fully for the first time that day.
“Are you alright? You’re getting wet,” the man said.
“I know. I’m fine, thank you.”
“The water will be up to your neck soon,” he warned.
“That’s ok,” Thora shrugged, her shoulders making little furrows in the sand. “I like the water.”
“Well, if you’re sure,” the man said, stepping over her to continue his way down the beach. Thora was sure. She thought how odd the man was, how earnest. How nice it was that he’d stopped to make sure she was ok. If she hadn’t been ok, she would have very much liked someone just like that to stop and ask how she was. The waves landed again, pushing the water up to her waist this time. Thora wiggled her toes as the froth splashed over her. Behind her, she could hear children playing in the sand, digging a moat, building a fort, waiting for the sea to come and destroy it. What a funny game, what fun they were having. Another crash and the water crept up her sides. The sand underneath her was wet now, with each wave she could feel the pull of the sea tugging at her. Crash, it covered her belly, crash it covered her breasts, crash, it covered her face, her neck, her head and then she was gone. Dragged out into the sea by the sheer force of it, by its willingness to reclaim her. Thora felt her legs fuse together at the ankles, the scales wrapping round her like a piece of chiffon as she kicked her flippers, tested them once or twice and swam.