He heard it as he approached his destination.

The eternal turning of the tides, saltwater rolling upon saltwater. The moon would forever revolve around the Earth, and with it, the water obeyed its beck and call. To him, though, it was simply white noise. He found it difficult enough to stay steady on his feet walking down the trail of the bluff while also keeping hold of his package. Labored breathing indicated somebody out of shape, somebody whose years of youth might be spent.

The bay spread out wide. On both sides were rock bluffs, polished clean by centuries of hurricanes and squalls. The dolomite alcoves of the bay’s cliffed coasts had no more secrets to hide, their geodes and gemstones revealed to the world by the radiant shine of the sun.

To a keener eye, this entire area looked almost abandoned. The hewn rock path, while wide and trustworthy, was almost overgrown with disuse. Weeds, sparse patches of grass, and even some wild carrots sprouted up, pushing aside the once-downtrodden soil and pebbles. This soil was rich from the warm sea air. Every heavy step he made shoved horizontally all these years of growth, uprooting and withering hundreds of tiny plants on his way down.

He wiped the sweat from his brow as he reached the bottom of the path. He shifted his package, containing within it things both expensive and priceless. Passing his labor off onto his faded jeans, he looked for where he was heading. At the seashore, various brush and foliage obscured one’s vision rather well, but he knew exactly where he was heading. No amount of verdance could hide his final terminus.

The mangroves of the seashore gave off a pungent aroma, whose sticky odor called to mind the memories of ham sandwiches without the crust and Coca-Cola. The sand was shining silver as ever; he remembered this sand being easy to walk on even in the worst conditions, and sighed a gentle sigh of relief when his memory served him properly. Every step seemed easier than the last as his worn work boots left thousands of grooves in the fine sand.

Turning the natural corner formed by the mangroves, he found the grotto he was looking for. A pier jutted out almost unnaturally from the beach. Its concrete landing was exposed underwater by years and years of weathering. He recalled that, even in low tide, the access to the wooden planks that formed the pier would require a short trek through shallow water. Now it was high tide. Cursing the day, he bent down with much effort to roll up his jeans. He realized its futility and chose instead to trudge through the knee-deep water to the concrete landing, pant legs drenched in the process. With great effort, he lifted his package above his head to keep it safe from the gentle spray of sea waves. Every step he took under the water betrayed the threat of him losing grip of his package, carried like an Atlantean weight. He saw his friends laughing and smiling and playing amongst the pier’s rotting supports. He would join them, but he couldn’t imagine being able to keep up with them.

A caution sign was posted very clearly on the foremost part of the rail. “CAUTION: UNSAFE CONDITIONS. DO NOT ENTER.” The indications of etchings and Sharpie markers were apparent on most parts of the sign, but no graffiti was legible.

Gulls crowed overhead as he took every step towards the end of the dock. Only the floor of the dock was painted; the railing was left exposed entirely to the elements. In some places of the railings, the wood had rotted off entirely. On others, warping was obvious. The floor did not escape the wrath of weathering, either. There were no signs of some planks, leaving him to carefully watch his step over these gaps, lest he fall and hurt himself.

He saw a young couple, talking at intimate length, the boy awkwardly leaning on the railing like a walking cane. Young, and foolish. He shifted his package as he silently walked past them. The contents inside were precious and irreplaceable; he couldn’t afford to lose them or drop them. He slowly passed by the docking offshoot. Supposed to be held on as a floating dock, the two metal rods holding it in place had long corroded and snapped off. Nothing was left.

Despite their age and weathering, the planks still held plenty of life in them. As one approaches the expiry of the pier, it is interesting to see how the pier seems so full of life and vibrant, as if the planks had been redone and repainted. The teal bay water swirled around the brine-eaten pillars of the dock as he continued his journey.

Finally, he reached his end. There was nowhere further to go; he was at the last plank of the dock. He saw the same young couple here, sharing a moment of togetherness facing the bay. He sat down next to them with a groan, setting his package aside. The splinters seemed to graze him wherever he made contact with the dock. Sighing, he contemplated the view: how many times he’d seen it before, how many different things it meant to him.

He set the package on his lap, considered opening it, and changed his mind. He tossed it into the deep water, never to be seen again.