sand dune jumping

A little drabble for @alarrylarrie based on this pic and Amanda’s comments. Not sure where it’s going, if it’s going anywhere.

First light is at 6:12 am, sunrise at 6:37am, according to the app on Harry’s phone, and low tide is just past seven, so he walks down the steps of the beach access, kicks off his flip flops into the sand dunes and jumps up and down to wake up his muscles. One of his favorite things about living here is the empty beach in the off season. It’s November, but the weather is still warm, and he can run shirtless and barefoot in the sand. He takes off headed north just as the first pink glow comes over the horizon. Sea gulls are hunkered down, standing in a group, wings tucked in, all facing east as if to watch the sunrise with him. His toes dig into the sand and he speeds up a little to get over that first mile. He’s been running since high school, and the first mile always sucks. He always hates it, always feels like stopping, like dying, like his rhythm is off, like his legs don’t work properly, but if he pushes past it, mile two is where the fun starts.

The sun is almost completely up now. Harry feels proud of himself when he times it perfectly like this. He stops at the swash to take it in - the pink and orange streaks in the clouds, the sparkling light reflecting on the water, the quiet, the smell of the salt air. Two miles out, now two miles back.

As he finishes the third mile, he wonders if it will be there. It’s been almost a month since the first time, and it’s been there almost every day.  It’s never there when he kicks off his flip flops, but while he’s out running on the beach, someone is writing his name in the sand with a little heart.  Harry giggles a little as the beach access comes into view because, yes, it’s his name, but he’s pretty sure it’s some kid, probably a teenage girl, with a crush on another boy who happens to be named Harry. Maybe they’re up early walking their dog or something. It’s cute. Harry loves it and has taken a picture of it every time since the first day it appeared. He has a separate folder for them in his phone.

Once he’s within about one hundred yards of the stairs, he sprints. When he reaches the dunes, he’s completely spent. His chest heaves as he wipes the sweat from his face and slips his feet into his sandals. After stretching his legs, he reaches into his pocket for his phone and snaps a quick photo. Today his name is written in cursive and there’s a little heart attached to the tail of the y.

Three days later, Harry misses the sunrise. It’s daylight savings and it always confuses the hell out of him. Spring forward, fall back, whatever. He always spends the first few days after the time change mentally calculating what time it used to be before his internal clock adjusts and he feels normal again.  It’s Sunday morning and he’s disappointed that he missed the sunrise, so he’s not really paying attention as he stomps down the stairs and kicks off his flip flops, but out of the corner of his eye he sees that he’s not alone. Great. He missed the sunrise and now there are people on his empty beach. He jumps and shakes out his muscles, stretches his arms overhead and freezes. There’s a boy, a man really. He’s squatting in the sand with a piece of shell in one hand and a mug of something hot in the other, and he’s looking at Harry’s name. Harry is just about to tell him off, he thinks he’s going to mess it up or scratch it out or something and he doesn’t want the little girl who writes it to be upset, but then the man adds something to it. A heart.

Harry’s arms drop to his sides and without thinking he calls out, “Hey! Do you do that every day?”

The man spins around and Harry is blown away. He’s beautiful, though he looks tired. Maybe a little like he just rolled out of bed and right onto the beach. His hair is sticking up every which way and he’s actually wearing pajama pants with a too big hoodie and no shoes.

“I…” The man squints his eyes and purses his lips. “Yeah, I do. What’s it to you?”

“It’s my name. That’s all. I see it every day when I run. Sorry, didn’t mean to upset you.” Harry waves as if to leave and takes a step away, but he hears mumbling behind him, so he turns back. “Did you say something?”

The man wiggles his toes into the sand and meets Harry’s eyes. “I keep dreaming about someone named Harry. It’s been driving me mad. I hate waking up at the ass crack of dawn, but I keep doing it. No matter what time I fall asleep, I’m wide awake before the sun comes up and I keep coming down here and I don’t know why. Just have the name Harry stuck in my head. That’s you, then?” He smiles and his eyes crinkle and Harry can see that they’re blue. Bright, crystal blue.

Harry’s grin is wide as he answers, “Yeah, that’s me.”