A boy named Crow
“Seth, don’t do that! Seth, Mommy said not to play on the beach with the storm coming!”
Ignoring his little sister’s cries, Seth stripped off his shirt and pants, placing them carefully in the hollow of a tree where they wouldn’t get wet. Wearing only his shorts, he felt the surf wash over his feet as he stared out across the ocean. Along the horizon, right at the vanishing point where sea meets sky, a single unbroken line of dark clouds formed a barrier between the two. It stretched off in either direction as far as the eye could see. Seth couldn’t recall anything like it.
“I’m telling Mommyyyy!” his little sister cried as she started away across the beach. Seth ignored her.
She wasn’t old enough to remember the last time a large storm had hit the island. Seth had only been a few years old when it had happened, about ten years ago now, but he remembered it with a clarity that few adults could claim. It had been a bad affair for the island: trees flattened, houses damaged, even a few lives lost out of carelessness or just bad luck. Not many of the islanders were willing to talk about it now, and none hoped for a repeat. None except for Seth. He dove into the water and pulled himself out towards those dark clouds with long, confident strokes.
He was headed towards a little jut-out of rocks and sand that he liked to call, in the privacy of his mind, ‘his island.’ He was confident that he was the only one who ever went there. It was a hard, thirty-minute swim just to reach it, and none of the other children on the island could swim as well as Seth; multiple swimming competitions had proven the point. His still-growing body hadn’t had time to develop extra muscle yet, but he had that lean, no-extra-baggage kind of figure that young boys could get through long periods of time spent out-of-doors. And so when he got there, it was just Seth, the rocks and sand, the sea and sky.
When he pulled himself up onto the rocky outcropping, his breathing was hard but even, and he shivered for a moment in his wet skin and shorts. The clouds hadn’t advanced visibly, but he could feel the cool breeze that was bringing them in. It was heavy with unshed rain and things to come. He lay back on a flat rock and let the sun dry him, the sky overhead still blue and empty. Seth propped his head on his hands and closed his eyes, recovering from the swim out there. Strange shapes played in the darkness beneath his eyelids; several minutes later, when the first peals of thunder could be heard rolling across the sea, Seth could no longer distinguish them from the stuff of his dreams.