My raven-haired muse and I sauntered down a shadowy and largely abandoned Sands Beach.

She looked at me slyly and soulfully with her deep brown eyes. “Don’t you just want to do something crazy?”

“Of course, love,” I said, taking her hands in mine. “What do you have in mind?”

She looked longingly to the seas.

“You know what we really ought to do,” she said flashing a sinister grin. “We really ought to go skinny-dipping. It’s too nice a night not to.”

I looked at her not sure if she was serious or joking. She sure looked serious.

“I wholeheartedly agree,” I said.

She let out a laugh of approval. “All right! Let’s go put our stuff by the fire pit and do this.”

“And you can’t chicken out,” she said, giving me a terse look.

“Don’t worry. I won’t.”

Arriving at the fire pits, we found the spot next to ours was now home to a multitude of unkempt beach people and sea hags who were embroiled in some sort of alcohol-fueled, fire-worshipping Bacchanalia. We emigrated toward the unfolding chaos.

“Let’s throw a tree on!” a voice rang out.

With that, one miscreant produced a dried Christmas tree he’d apparently been saving for just this very occasion and tossed it onto the waning combustion. It reignited in a fury. Flames shot high into the blackened starry sky, and embers cascaded from a fiery fountain that peaked somewhere above the moon.

“Look at that,” my love marveled.

Enticed by the spectacular spectacle of one tree being engulfed in flames, the drunks proceeded to toss on another. And another. The inferno greatly intensified and shot seemingly within inches of our faces as we sat drawn to it like a couple of stoned moths.

As the blaze waned, Love turned to me.

“It’s time,” she said, as the reflection of the flames danced in her eyes. “Are you ready?”

I nodded, and we started our trek down the beach. I looked nervously at her, then the waves, then her, then the waves, then the stars, then her again. She seemed to do something of the same. I was exhilarated but somewhat terrified at the same time.

“Well,” she said. “Start stripping.”

I obliged. I started taking my clothes off. Soon I just had my underwear on. Love had gone commando.

“Everything means everything,” she instructed. “Take it off.”

“It’s cold.”

“Like you have much to hide anyway,” she teased.

I cackled and removed the last remnant of my clothing, flinging it onto the darkened sand.

“Let’s do this!” she yelled.

We charged into the icy waters. Or at least I did. I got up to chest high as a swell came in. I looked over, and Love was just standing up to her ankles in water, the surf lapping innocently against her. Did she chicken out?

“I chickened out,” she said.

“Ah well, next time,” I said.

We put our clothing back on and headed toward the fires. We took a seat next to some flames and tried to warm ourselves up. The cold waters of the Northern Pacific chilled the evening. We sat cuddled next to the flames.

“I have to do it,” she said.

“Do what?” I asked.

“I have to go all-in in the water. I can’t just chicken out.”

“Yeah,” I said. “You did come all the way here.”

“Will you do it too?” she asked.

“Of course, love,” I said.

Wild and nude, we charged headfirst into the icy waters like rabid bison off a buffalo jump. I dove into a rising swell and was washed over with a cold, salty brine.

I recomposed just in time to see Love emerge from the surf, a striking figure rising from the chaotic moonlit sea foam like Aphrodite herself, the waves dripping from her supple body. She shook the water from herself, gazed ahead with a lustful eye and giggled. We leapt into an embrace.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

We trekked back to the fire pits, which were now abandoned. We sat next to the fire for a little while, warming up from our icy bath.

“Want to head down the beach?” she queried.

“Absolutely,” I said.

We walked down to the shoreline and then found a seat up on the loose sand above the wave break. I laid down next to Love and gazed up at the dark, starry tapestry above. Off to the side the lights of the city danced in the surf, and above, constellations glided effortlessly.

“Look,” I said, pointing. “It’s Orion.”

The celestial warrior lorded over us like the sentinel of not only this beach community, but time itself. The sound of the waves formed a crashing metronome, a sedative backdrop. Lulled into a state of euphoria by the elements, I turned on my side and cuddled up next to my habibti.

“I feel infinite,” she mused.

“Me too.”

We passed out under the stars, blissful and triumphant.

I was startled awake by a steady beating on my door. I felt like death, sicker than the proverbial dog, and hating life. I ached. I was congested. I rolled back over and shut my eyes. The beating continued. I staggered to my feet, and answered the knocking, my own self resembling a sort of homeless and disheveled owl. It was my landlord, apparently here for some sort of “random inspection.”

I sighed. I’d rather be skinny-dipping.

M.D. Harkins is a noted authority on small hand tools and Nuristani mating rituals. He has lived in such far-flung locales as Beirut, Lebanon, and Billings, Montana. He maintains the Enlightened Despot blog and has written one novel, Feast. He currently resides in a fortified compound near Isla Vista.


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