The sea is a harsh mistress. She constantly asks you to leave your wife and cries incessasntly when you hesitate for a moment. She calls you in the middle of the night and hangs up if the wrong person answers. She kills your pets, scratches the paint on your car, leaves strange notes in the middle of books you are no longer reading.

Her high-tide waves cut you with bits of shells and broken bottles and bones. Her dark depths are cool and airless, contain the bodies of a myriad of past loves in various states of decay.

They give to her their salt; their rot becomes a part of her flavor and coloring.

I am murky with failed romance, she tells you one night when you pick up the phone without thinking, forgetting for one fleeting second your usual dread. She does not say this right way. At first you hear only waves.

She compares you to the moon sometimes, and not favorably. You are insubstantial and you do not glow. You lack its romance. You do not move her.

If that’s how you feel, please stop calling my home in the middle of the night, you tell the sea.

The sea shrugs—shrugs the way a sea shrugs. Something involving the sea shore.

Nevermind, you say, avoiding the usual storm, the shoales, the riptides. You are tired and not in the mood. You have been having trouble sleeping. Your wife has noticed this and bought you a CD to play at night to help you relax. It is primarily the sound of waves. Understandably, this does not help.

Grant Bailie is the author of the novels Cloud 8 and Mortarville, as well as numerous stories online and in print. His latest novel, New Hope for Small Men is available in e-book form under the auspices of Necessary Fiction, where it was first serialized. His book TomorrowLand--an illustrated novel of sorts--is due out in the fall through Red Giant Books Mr. Bailie currently lives in Lakewood, Ohio, which is a stone’s throw from Cleveland. He knows this because sometimes the people in Cleveland throw stones.

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