Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.
They walked for a long time in silence along the beach, their hands swinging in the space between them. I watched them walk from where I sat on the highest mound of sand. They were a boy and a girl, only twelve years old, and I, her sixteen-year-old sister, was worried about her. She’d never had a boyfriend before and the kid she was walking with, his longish black hair swept over his forehead, had a squinty-eyed look about him. Maybe it was just the sun in his eyes. I don’t really know. I just saw that she kept glancing over at him, expectation in her gaze, and he never looked back, never took her hand. So their fingers continued to swing between them, alone in space.
They walked past me where I had concealed myself with a book and a wide-brimmed hat, but they never once looked up. When they finally reached the rocky cliffs on the other side of the beach, he stopped. They’d gone too far for me to see what they were saying, but I could feel that something big was about to happen. He stuck his hands in his pockets and faced her with his head bowed. She flicked her short black curls behind her ear and took hold of her elbow with the opposite hand, the toe of her sandal digging into the ground.
To give them some privacy, I turned away to stare at the sea. From where I was sitting, the roar of the surf sounded far off, a distant thing. The sky had a blinding, cloudless, shallow-pool blue about it that greatly contrasted with the glittering, blue-black surface of the waves. A line of weeds stretched across the shore and in their walk, the couple had avoided it.
Returning to them, I saw that he had something black in his hand. A cell phone. My heart dropped as I watched him play with it in front of her. The toe of her sandal stopped digging and her foot fell flat against the ground. A particularly strong gust of wind blew by and he shook the hair out of his eyes, his jaw moving as he spoke. He didn’t look up at her very often. I wondered if it was because her staring made him uncomfortable. I often felt that way myself.
He hefted the phone once, twice, offering it to her, but she didn’t take it. Putting it away, I saw his shoulders drop as he stuck his hands in his pockets again.
“Hey!” I heard a girl call from farther down the beach.
Looking to my left, I saw a blonde halo of hair jumping up and down, one arm extended in a wave as a slight girl walked towards them, moving away from a roving group of friends behind her. When I turned back to the couple, I saw him start walking away from the conversation. As he got closer to where I was sitting, my book poised in front of me in case he recognized my face, I saw him turn around a bit and call back, “I’m sorry!” before continuing to walk away.
My chest warming with sympathy for her embarrassment, I waited until she’d sat down next to me before I looked up again. To my left, he and the blonde were walking down the beach, their clasped hands swinging between them.
“He left me,” she said from my right. I turned and saw the first lines of despair starting to crawl across her face, the first of many heartbreaks to come, each of them ruining her otherwise cheerful laugh lines and making her seem older than her years. “He said he wanted to be with somebody else.”
After a second, I put my arm around her shoulders. She leaned her head against my neck and I could feel her quiet tears rolling across my sun-warmed skin. “I’m sorry,” I whispered into her hair as the brim of my hat covered both of us. “I really am.”
Prompt: They walked for a long time in silence.
In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.