Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

The high tide was coming as my sand castle to my left had just been swept away in the water like trebuchets from an invading army ruining decades of work on city walls. I forgot about high tide, that prickly bitch. One moment you’re designing years of practice into a single building, and the next you’re watching it disappear as each wave crashes over it and the ocean steals back its sands as if saying, “That’s mine, you dick, give it back!” I guess the ocean has the temperament of a toddler.

The sun was high, and I could spot buoys floating in the distance. I always wanted to swim up to one of them just to say, “Tag! You’re it!” I could never find the courage to do so. In fact, I didn’t want to move at all. I was seated down in a criss-cross applesauce style as a stick nestled down beside me. It was the ocean’s way of apologizing for demolishing my life’s work, I assumed. I acceptingly grabbed it and started scribbling in the sand only for it to be washed away immediately like a parent telling a child to practice writing their alphabet on a piece of paper instead of scribbling random shit. “Sorry,” I muttered.

I wrote the only thing word that could come to mind: “HEY”. The words sat there for about a minute as the waves crashed and magically avoided this one specific spot. A wave on the left of it. A wave on the right. But, water had seemingly ignored the hey’s location. Until it didn’t. The water crept up my swimsuit and conquered the entirety of my word. Once the water receded, it left an entirely different word: “HELLO”.

I looked around in a confused manner just to make sure no one was around me that I didn’t notice before. Maybe someone was playing a sick trick on me, though I can’t remember seeing anyone walk in front of me. The beach, however, was empty. Then, another wave came and removed the word.

Something urged me to try another word. Maybe I wanted to test my sanity, or maybe for shits and giggles, but I wrote: “HOW R U?” I wanted enough spare time in case another wave came, so I shortened it a bit like a texting teenager. Another period of time passed and I rubbed my eyes, hoping that maybe I’d wake up from some strange dream. But, no, the words were still there. Finally, a wave came and washed it away once again. It left the words: “FINE U?”

What the fuck? Is the ocean talking to me? What do I ask an ocean? “Age, sex, location?” No, that works with random strangers on the internet, not an entity that covers most of the planet. If one could talk to an ocean, what would one say? Ask about its family? Hobbies? Career? No, that seems to work only for networking with people. What if it wasn’t the ocean? So, I asked: “FINE. WHERE R U?”

“HERE. U?”



Then, the water washed it away and I never saw a response. I waited for a few minutes. I tried again. No response. It was the most bizarre thing I ever encountered and had nearly forgotten about it for several years until today.

I remembered trying to figure out where Falmouth was. There was one in Massachusetts. Was it that one? What about the one in Jamaica? The one in England? I didn’t have a lot to go off of, so I closed the book on the ordeal and jammed it away into my memory’s vault. Closed and sealed.

Life has a funny habit of sneaking things into your way. Sometimes it makes me wonder if we’re all living on a predefined timeline with minor deviations. My company sent me on a business trip from Newark to London, where I would meet the lead of our counterpart team based in the United Kingdom. Over the next few days where we spent a lot of time together discussing strategies and aligning goals, we also spent time after work exploring various restaurants and pubs on the company’s dime, of course. One thing led to another and she’s sleeping next to me in a hotel room at this moment.

Between moments of intimacy, she asked, “You want to hear a strange story?”


She laughed and proclaimed, “You would never believe me.”

“I won’t laugh,” I stated as I motioned like I was zipping my mouth shut.

“I’m only telling you because when I found out you were from Newark, it reminded me of something that happened several years ago. I swear this on my life, but I was sitting on the beach and I swear the word ‘hey’ appeared in front of me. So, I wrote ‘hello’, and we had a brief conversation. I found out they were from-“

The sealed memory vault opened. A phantom hand reached right in and ripped the memory right out as I interrupted her, “Cape May. And you’re the one from Falmouth?”

Her jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide.