The moment he reached the edge of the shore, he felt the sand give way. It was fine and white above, coarse and black below. He stepped back quickly, before his wife and son caught up with him.
The waves crashed in, making a green roil from the horizon to the tumble of lava boulders that edged the cliffs slanting down from jungled peaks high above. Only this thin crescent of sandy beach remained untouched, and even that was being steadily carved away by the sea. It was vivid in every detail.
“The waves are a lot bigger than when we were here on our honeymoon,” his wife was telling their son, “but that was in the summertime. It seems like yesterday.”
He turned around and beckoned them closer, putting his back to the sea. The boy came up beside him and slid a hand between his father’s arm and waist, hanging there as if he were an ape about to start climbing. “There’s rescue tubes back there, Dad! And signs saying people get swept away here all the time! Kapu! Do you think that really happens?”
“They’re just being extra cautious,” he said. “That’s all ‘kapu’ means. Your mother swam here and it was just fine.”