Flash Fiction: Salt and Sand (345 words)

The beach was not a good place to hide. There was very little cover, though the few heavy rocks that scattered through the surf were pleasantly hulking and the wind was sharp enough to steal the sound of heavy running breaths and careful footsteps. It took too long to find that cover, and the soft sand took footprints jealously. Even the fierce wind that swooped in from the open water couldn’t swipe them away without a few hours persistence.

The sand near the water was harder packed, wet from old tides and beautifully dark. Soft steps could hide in the top layers, and the wind scoured them away quick enough. But it kicked up loose sand as well. Everywhere but the path of prints would be still and stoic, but wherever those careful prints had landed the sand would skitter and prance, the wind catching it by the hip and spinning it in a haphazard and happy country dance. The trail stayed obvious until the next tide came up to dampen the mood.

And those tides came up too often, really, to say that the beach had any good hiding place. Any rock with enough space to crouch behind might become a stony island, or an underwater stack within a few hours. A good hiding place should be a cozy hole to sleep out the night, or at least a ditch where it was possible to breathe the whole night through.

No, Jenny decided, running across the sand, with her toes digging holes behind her on each step. Her turns were sloppy and her legs were burning with the extra effort of trying to push off the sliding ground. The wind took her breath off her lips as soon she let it go, and it pushed air back into her lungs a little too fast so that she had to keep her head tilted down to stop it. She was not a beach person.

But she looked behind her at the three armed men, sliding and stumbling and cursing, and she grinned.

They weren’t either.

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