Total Word Count: 457
During the first week of November, all the police officers leave their clean pressed uniforms on the front steps of their houses. Anyone in town is free to pick them up, put them on, and see what it is like, this work of being an officer of the law. But this year the uniforms were left untouched. It was the first time.
My brother and I are sitting in the coffee shop on Heart Street. I pour some milk in my coffee. My brother drinks his black. My brother is a police officer. Lately his eyes get kind of empty when he talks about work, which isn’t often. He’s in charge of keeping people off the beach at night. Too many accidents of late, so they decided to close down the ocean until summer. Even put up a white sign with big red letters. The sign reads, “Ocean Closed Until Further Notice.” And my brother is the one who makes sure it stays shut down nice and tight. I imagine him, walking on the sand, spending his nights making sure that no one is breathing in the salty air. No one is looking and looking at the dark water as the lights of fishing boats flash on and off. No one is counting the rocks shining like bones in the moonlight.
My brother takes the last sip of his coffee. “A few weeks ago, we had a big problem,” he says and shakes his head. “A bunch of old men, big Russians with big chests, decided to take a quick swim. I had to pull them out of the water one by one. Big steaming men acting like children.” My brother looks in his cup like there might be an answer at the bottom. “And then they just walked away. They didn’t say anything. Just walked away like it was all my fault.”
Now it is February. Soon enough winter will end. Soon enough the ocean will be open again. My brother looks at the clock. It’s almost seven. “I’ve got to go close down the ocean,” my brother says and stands up. As if it actually means something, this idea of closing the ocean. But maybe it does. Maybe it means something important. And not only to my brother.
In November this year, the police officers’ uniforms remained where they had been placed, untouched. They just sat there, waiting. It was the first time. But every night the beach was filled. Filled with footprints. Filled with the whispers of lovers trying to hold on to a few more moments. Filled with kids laughing like they already had a hundred tomorrows rolled up tight and put away safely in their pockets, saved up for the coming of spring.