by Elizabeth Striebel
On warm Sundays, Hongkongese enjoy riding ferries to the surrounding islands of which there are more than two hundred.
City-weary passengers escape the density of downtown sky-rises, beckoned to old fishing villages and shimmering beaches sprinkled among the islands.
A Hong Kong couple at the beach struggles with their kite, caught in a bare tree.
An upswept breeze only tangles it more, as they gently tug to release it.
All the while, their bare-bottomed child, who was playing in the sand so contentedly, has crept to the sea and crossed the shore’s line into its calling water.
The toddler struggles now with the tugging undertow, only to become more and more involved in the swirl as he thrashes to release himself.
But silently he twirls out to sea.
Just as silently, the parents surrender the flimsy paper kite, helpless to the ripping, gnarling branches, and the swirling, tugging under-breeze.
By the time they turn their attention again to the beach, it has happened all so neatly, so quietly; as insistent and complete as the chugging of the next ferry.
Specializing in short fiction, Elizabeth Striebel’s writing is culled from equatorial and far-east living. She lives in Central America. Her work won her an award in the Traveler's Tales 2007 SOLAS contest.