(Matt’s short fiction has appeared in UpScene Magazine, Slush, The Superstition Review, The Mangrove Review, Dogzplot, A Cappella Zoo, Four Quarters, Arroyo Literary Review, and Gargoyle Magazine. He is currently finishing his first novel.)
Francisco Maldonado went down to the beach to look for the ships. He did this every morning, rain or shine, as he had been doing for a year. What he saw was the sea and sky and cloud formations various and boring but never the ships that would bring de Soto. And so he spent his time kicking about in the sand, a soft white variety, fine as sugar and gleaming, venting his growing frustration. De Soto would come. He should have arrived there months ago, three at the latest, even with bad winds and hurricanes. But still, he would come. And still Francisco waited.
He removed his boots to dig his toes into the sand. It was good and warm and the wind smelled like clean brine. But what good was such beauty when de Soto was not among them? Out on the swell, dark clouds began to gather. Thunder sounded in the distance.
Natchez, his second in command, scampered up, head bared, face tanned. Anything? said the man.
Francisco shook his head.