A Very Late Music Monday: Between Two Lungs

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Between Two Lungs

A fictional interpretation of a song by Florence + The Machine

I like to run along the beach.

When the tide is low, I can kick off my running shoes and run along the wet sand, my footprints slapping an imprint that fades with the next kiss of the wave. It’s a calming experience to run where everything changes. No wave is ever the same. A dune can be blown away in a night. The remains of a sea life can be washed to shore and pulled back in within a matter of seconds.

It reminds me of life.

Everything can change in an instant, and nothing will ever be the same.


We met last summer. He was just a tourist, and I was the lucky tour guide. He had booked me as a joke. 

“Who actually needs a tour guide for the beach?” he had asked.

I liked his eyes. They were blue, the kind of blue that you want to get lost in. His hair reminded me of the sand.

“Old people mostly,” I had answered.

“What do you talk about? The tides?”

“Yes,” I had said. “And the sea life, most likely findings, the best places to collect, and sometimes the weather.”

“That sounds boring.”

“Some people prefer boring to silence.”

He didn’t respond, so he could prove his point.


He was stubborn. He had the kind of independence that came with a life of complete freedom, having nobody and nothing tying him to a particular place. His family had moved around a lot. He referred to his parents as “The Nomads” because of their inability to stay in one place longer than six weeks. 

“Nothing was too crazy for them,” he told me. “I could do anything I wanted to, and I’d never get in trouble. They were big on freedom. Everything was an expression to them.”

He introduced me to a world I knew nothing about. I had never left Shelby Beach. I was born and raised in the same house by two overbearing parents who owned the town's only supermarket. My grandparents owned the local diner. And my aunt owned the Activity Center. I had spent my entire life next to the ocean, and my summers working at whatever family-owned business I felt like. This year, my aunt’s Activity Center was the winning workplace, and she hired me to take people on tours of the beach as well as help out during the weekly events she planned: movies in the town square, bonfires, sandcastle-building tournaments, bingo, and craft-fairs on the beach…she had a new idea every week. It was the only change I had really experienced in my life.

Until he came and changed my life forever.


He was my first kiss.

On the Fourth of July, we waded waist deep in the water. It was dark. I had never been in the water in the dark. My parents had always thought it was too dangerous.

“You look beautiful tonight,” he told me.

My hair was soaked and sticking to my cheeks. I was caked in sand and sea-water. But he still kissed me.

The fireworks blasted above my head and inside my chest. Between my two lungs I felt something other than space.

That night I fell in love.


We met for runs on the beach at sunrise every morning. I was an early riser and he had trouble sleeping at nights. He claimed it was all the travel. He just couldn’t sync into a proper schedule.

“What do you do at night if you can’t sleep?” I asked him.

“Think of you?” He smiled, and I blushed. “Sometimes I swim.”

“By yourself? Aren’t you scared?”

“Of what?”

“It’s dangerous.”

“Everything in life can be dangerous. Or nothing at all. It’s a matter of perspective, and I don't want to live in fear.”

One morning, he didn’t show up. I watched the sun rise by myself before I began my run. When I returned, he still hadn’t shown up. I figured he must have finally fallen asleep at night.

But then I learned it was the water- not sleep - that had taken him under.


The official report said that he had drowned, but there was no body to be found. The sea had taken his life, and hidden his body.

When I heard the news, I couldn’t breathe. I gasped for air, but I couldn’t fill my lungs nor could I fill the space between them. I felt empty. I wondered if this was how he had felt too. Drowning.

For a while, I couldn’t run.

For a while, I couldn’t stand the silence of the beach.


But now I’m back, and I’m moving forward. I inhale and fill my lungs with the salty ocean air. I exhale and I give the world what my lungs can no longer hold.

And between my two lungs, my heart keeps beating. It matches my pace as I speed up and slow down, sand squishing between my toes, salt-water soaking my skin, miles of space ahead and behind me.

But I’m only looking forward.

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