What is it about the way that some words can be arranged and aligned in such a way that they can take us to places we’ve never been before?
Who knows, right? I’m just thankful that it happens at all.
All I know is that when I read Stephanie’s story it moved me in ways I couldn’t explain. Maybe it was the way she described the setting…the beach, the waves, the bonfire. I could almost feel the pull of the moon.
I grew up on Lake Erie and there was a time long, long ago that I could have been one of those mindless teenagers out there running around in the sand, mindless of life that lay before me. Annoying those who already know all too well.
Yeah, I don’t know why it is that Stephanie’s stories moves me the way it does…
I’m just glad it does.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sending me your sad yet magical and wonderfully titled story of inspiration.
by Stephanie Buosi
Silly little girls are dancing in bikinis. Their boys chase them around a bonfire on the beach. The waves lap at their heels and mine, although I am neither silly nor wearing a bikini. I hear their laughter as an insult. They play with the night and use the darkness in their game of cat and mouse. I skulk around them unnoticed and am easily on my way.
Perhaps I should have joined in their games. But I walk in a dream, and am afraid of feeling joy only to wake up again.
I told no one.
In a sense, I suppose you could say I ran away. But you can’t tell the people who are the fabric of your life of your decision to quit your home, your job, your life, and head to the beach. You are also a part of the fabric of their lives, and they would never let you go willingly; there would at least be one round of guilt. No. It is always best to just slip away.
I went to the beach because you never took me to the beach. When I press my toes into the white sand the only imprint is mine. You are nowhere near this beach, so I can breathe a little easier.
I could still smell you back in the home I quit. On the bed, against the wall, on the kitchen counter pressed against the granite… you were still there. That was why I sold the house. It now legally belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Collins, respectively. They were a nice couple, yet I still wanted to spit in their faces when they agreed to the price. Why so little? Couldn’t they see what I was giving up?
You were a part of my shadow. You knew my darkness, and relished the bad with the good. You knew I was a bit of everything, and loved to touch it all. Now no one can touch me and you made sure of this. Perhaps I let you have too much. Every night, as I walk home, I remember this and let myself fall on the sand. I sink like a stone thrown in water. This is another reason why I chose the beach; sand is much softer than concrete, and my knees no longer hurt when they smack the ground.
I am playing such a strange role. Who knew I could be so powerful as to be untouchable? I am now a league onto my own, possessing of something no one else will know. Because how can they know? You were my shadow alone.
I have to skip around starfish on my walk home. Every night they are pushed by the waves to their deaths, and leave behind beautiful concrete memories of their lives. The locals collect them in wicker baskets and sell them to ambivalent tourists during the day. Their bodies are treasured, and they become something more than star-shaped predators belonging to the class Asteroidea.
You. Homo sapiens. Workaholic. Wonderful fingers. Belonging to me. Once. And now you belong to the God you worshiped, and I can only touch you through sleep, shadow, or imagination. I hope you are aware that you are challenging my sanity. Are you happy?
I wore a mask at the funeral. I wore a mask so others would not be frightened of me. You wouldn’t have recognized me. I was all dolled up, but felt so cold. People spoke to me and all I could do was smile. But at least with a mask on they had the courage to try. You were right there but so far away. I couldn’t have touched you even if I tried.
The beach is usually deserted at night. Most are afraid to venture beyond the reach of a streetlight. They stay on the boardwalk with drinks in their hands and listen to loud music to drown the call of gently crashing waves. They are afraid of the loneliness, I think. The ocean is a siren that provokes thoughts most would rather hide behind dirty martinis.
But there is freedom in the dark. I can be me: powerful and untouchable as I ache for you.
The girls and boys are now disembodied voices drifting along the sea breeze, and their bonfire now a candle against an inky sky. Life once again feels like a dream. Colorless, the world holds the potential for green skies or purple sand. Whatever I imagine the world to be I can paint it over the black of night. Perhaps I can paint you beside me?
Putting one step in front of the other is not a hard thing to do. I do that every night. I put one foot in front of the other and hope that my steps will bring me to a place of peace. I hope to find a place where I can feel okay without you.
I know it will come. Night cannot exist without day.