Folded three times and tucked at the bottom of the suitcase, a faded postcard from Venice Beach shows the dusty curve of a road, framed by a telegraph pole and a cluster of tall, perfectly straight palm trees, almost black against the grey sky. Something white, maybe a cigarette packet, lies in the middle of the road; the volley-ball nets on the beach are strung up but unattended.
Most people never think of it this way, without the graffiti of human life to mar its face, and she wonders why someone would take and print a picture like this. Tourists want something they can send home and show their friends over home-made margaritas, something they can scrawl jaunty messages on the back of, with exaggerated loops of blue ballpoint to drive home that, Lord, this really is the craziest place, you guys.
The road only takes up about a quarter of the picture, arcing in at the bottom left and disappearing about an inch up on the right, just under the scrub of grass and sticks where the palm trees stand. Dusty white sand has scattered out over the the white line that marks its edge, stitching it to the beach and the sea and the strange, bleached-out sky. When the wind picks up at night, it blows farther than you’d think, that sand.
Sometimes, when things get tough, she can still feel it like grit in her eye or a crumb in her bed. Or she’ll be driving, the kids and the shopping in the back, and she’ll look to the side of the road where silvered August grass grows tall. And there, just for a second, she’ll think that she sees a sweep of pale sand, brushing over the edges like reaching fingers, and blurring the lines between where she’s going and where she once was.
Inspired by Venice Beach by Anna Andretta