Roll Tide

by | Feb 3, 2023

I park my car in my secret place off Fort Lauderdale Beach,behind the sea grape hedging The Button nightclub where years later, the spot will become a designated place to store recycling bins, but for now, for this second in time, it’s a place to park a small ass Karmann Ghia without coming back off the beach and finding it towed.
I’m good, better than a few weeks ago where you and I finally cut loose. I’m nineteen, my beach chair is under my arm. I’m years before worrying about attaching an umbrella to the chair to protect my skin. My book and a cold can of coke are slung over my shoulder in my beach bag, a plastic shopping bag from Macy’s my grandma gave to me so I would always have a bit of NYC on hand. My driver license is stuck under the mat in the car where I don’t give it a single goddamn, though years later, that’s all I worry about, how someone could steal my stuff, my identity and this will become my single excuse for not going to my beach future.
I walk to A1A, thinking about how yeah, I am feeling pretty good, I’m sort of cute, short sure, funny always, but what I would learn years later, I felt less co-dependent and damn good detaching from someone sucking the life out of me. In my blind spot, I sense (hear really) a truck wheel itself behind me on the sidewalk, the same sidewalk “Where The Boys Are” movie filmed in my mother’s time and hell, there you were, yelling out the driver’s side window, get in. I look at you and laugh my ass off. Seriously, is what I would say now all these years later, but for now, I look at you and say, uh no, I’m going to the beach and you can go to hell. I turn my back on you and I head to the street and I hear your truck rumble along behind me on the sidewalk, a brick sidewalk. The truck revs, but people heading to the beach crowd you because even you will not run down a pedestrian and risk that precious Roll Tide scholarship even if the pedestrian was me, but I don’t worry, not one bit. The light changes, the signal switches and I cross to the most beautiful beach in the world with the flattest ocean and the most majestic palms and a cloudless sky bright with sun where I open my chair in my secret hiding place behind the public bathrooms and breathe deep and hope to never see you again


  1. Dominique Christina

    Thank you for sharing this. There were moments where the direction of the speaker was a bit lost on me but I appreciate the dismount. There’s something sassy and self possessed about sitting behind the public restrooms at the beach after having just drawn a boundary. I would just want to see you really try to hone in on voicing. Perhaps an outline or notecards to keep the movement fluid and clear. Thank you again for sharing this.

  2. Julia Bouwsma

    I agree about honing in on the voicing, which felt most clear and solid to me in the shorter, choppier sentences at the beginning of the second paragraph. “I’m good, better than a few weeks ago where you and I finally cut loose. I’m nineteen, my beach chair is under my arm.” I loved these lines—they’re so sharp! As the piece progresses and we bobble back and forth in time more, the sentences becomes looser and longer, more meandering and there is more opportunity for the reader to get lost. As you revise, I’d consider trying to really dig into those short hard sentences to see if it helps to ground and shape the piece.

    • Sheree Shatsky

      Appreciate this, Julia. Definitely will include these suggestions in the revision. Thank you!

  3. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Sheree, this is so fascinating. And I agree that the back and forth time jumps (present POV and future POV looking back) were jarring. One suggestion, perhaps if you want to keep that (older/ younger POV) the vessel or container might work better as a poem. Or if you want to stay in flash, maybe a numbered piece? This way we can assimilate the time jumps. Great first draft!

    • Sheree Shatsky

      Thanks for those ideas, I can play with both, will be fun to see how this piece evolves.

  4. jennifer vanderheyden

    The title is perfect, Sheree, and nicely connected in the piece. I love the powerful voice of the 19 yr old, and I understand the insertion of the wiser self. I like Robert’s idea of numbering the piece to separate the voices. I would keep this line in the first paragraph…love and identify with it! “I’m years before worrying about attaching an umbrella to the chair to protect my skin.” I appreciate too the visual aspect of the piece!

    • Sheree Shatsky

      Thank you, Jennifer. Numbering, yes! I agree with you and Robert, I see how the piece could really take off.

  5. Meg Tuite

    Hi Sheree! I love the braiding of what things will become and what they were then. I’d love to see more of that. And the mysterious relationship with the truck driver opened up with a can opener, slowly and surely, but definitely jagged and dangerous! Very visceral! You paint an exquisite landscape of before and after. YES TO MORE! LOVE THIS!

  6. Koss (No Last Name)

    Sheree, wonderful details woven through time. I’m wondering what might happen if you departed from the epistolary aspects. For me, it alienated me a bit as a reader and it undermines the cutting of the relationship by addressing the writing to him. This is just a thought based on my initial gut reaction as I read it. “You” can draw a reader in sometimes, but for me it had a bit of a repelling effect. Playing with this might also impact the “voicing” comments made above. But, of course, I may be way off track. Glad to see you here. 🙂

  7. Len Kuntz

    Hi Sheree.

    I love the bits of snark, bravado and confidence sprinkled throughout– small ass Karmann Ghia, damn good detaching, sucking the life out of me.
    You paint a really vivid picture of things with all of your details like the Macy’s bag, the beach chair, the way the ocean looks.
    Personally I liked all the time jumps and I loved the ending.

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