The Sand Dollar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Petch is devastated after her family's divorce. She fears that the people around her may not be permanent as she thought they were. Now, it's up to Ploy, Petch's sister, to convince her otherwise.

Submitted: April 09, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 09, 2018



Like all countries, Thailand also has popular tourist destinations. One in particular is a city well-known for its beaches and nightlife with bars and massage parlors and farangs. And if you just dig deep into its core, to the center of it all, you would know that there would always be people in the area. The lights are never off. Loud music is always heard and felt from kilometers away.

Because this is Pattaya, a city that never rests.

“Pattaya is supposed to be filled with fun and excitement,” Ploy said, gesticulating wildly by using her hands and her whole body. “People are off somewhere partying, dancing and getting drunk in a bar; walking in the bazaar, enjoying food, drinks, and local products at the Walking Street; or watching cabaret shows! So why do I” —she sighed loudly, her head slumping forward— “Why do I feel so down and out of place?”

She stared at her sand dollar necklace and whined.

“Why, Mom, why?!” She tilted up her head and looked at her mother, who was sitting on the hospital bed. Her face was blank and her eyes were glassy, staring off into space. She didn’t move a muscle.

Ploy sighed once more. Well, this was normal. Of course, there were times when her mother was present— not closed off in her own head, thinking about her husband and why he’d left her— but those were rare.

Meanwhile, a few rooms away, a few floors above, Ploy’s elder sister, Petch, was walking around the bed their father’s lifeless body was on.

“Why did leave Mom?” Petch said, looking at him with disdain. “You deserved it, you know? Getting clobbered in the head by a golf club. You shouldn’t have used golf as a reason for going to your mistress!”

She gritted her teeth, willing the tears that were begin to brim to retreat back to where they belonged. She looked at her father’s face, all serene and unaffected.

He didn’t deserve to be this peaceful! Not when he’d created this giant rift with their family, the aftermath far greater than to reverse to the initial state.

“You said that she’s your ideal partner? A soulmate?” Her finger traced the collar of the hospital uniform. She grabbed a handful of his shirt. And yanked. “How disgusting! What about Mom?! I bet you used to tell her that, too!”

Beside her, the heart monitor was going berserk. The rapid signal was beeping so violently it should’ve scared her. Instead, it was provoking her, prodding her to just get on with this task. She could perceive the fog clouding her father’s oxygen mask and his fingers twitching. His labored breathing echoing in her ears. But she was focused, and she was calm.

“You hurt me!” She screamed. “So. Much.

Her father’s eyes flew open. Petch stared back in astonishment, unconsciously letting go of him.


“Petch’s been withdrawing from me ever since our family fell apart,” Ploy continued, reaching for her mother’s hand and stroking back a stray of graying hair. “It’s been a year, but losing both parents has taken a toll on her far greater than I’ve imagined. She finally snapped.”

“Petch…?” Ploy’s mother tilted her head, her eyes clear for once. “I have two daughters: Petch and Ploy.” She shook her daughter’s hand off and reached over for two dolls, old and dirty. Their clothes were patched several times, the seams fraying along the edges. “See, see? They’re my precious gems!”

Ploy watched as her mother held out the dolls to her, tilting them left and right. She was smiling at them so proudly, looking at them so lovingly and caringly. She combed their hair with such gentleness that it stung Ploy’s heart. Not only was she invisible to her mother most of the time, she was now merely a stranger to her. However, it wasn’t as if she could do anything and it wasn’t as if her mother was to blame for suffering with this condition.

“Mom —”

“I told you I only have two daughters!” She abruptly screamed at Ploy, then quickly held the dolls, nestling them securely against her bosom and patting them affectionately like they were the most precious thing to her. “Oh, I’m sorry. Is she scaring you?”

“Darin, I’m sorry, okay?” Ploy held up her hands to show her mother she meant no harm. She faked a smile. “We’re friends, right?”

Darin, Ploy’s mother, huddled tight into herself, shielding the dolls from Ploy. Her glare— a mixture of anger, intimidation, and fear— travelled up and down the figure in front of her until it stopped at the necklace. “Huh! A sand dollar! It’s a sand dollar!” She pointed at it. “Petch, Ploy, you see that?! Remember how we used to go to the beach every weekend and collect seashells? Ha ha ha. Fun time, fun time! We would even see silvery white skeletons. The dead sand dollars! The dead sea urchins!” She leaned in closer to the dolls as if they were talking to her. “Ah es, yes! We have to crowd together like the sand dollars. Yes. We need to stick together to stay alive! It’s the best living environment! Especially with that guy’s death!” She started cackling madly, the inhuman voice resonating deep within Ploy’s head.

“Um…” Ploy bit her lower lip.

Dad’s actually not dead, just in a coma for over half a year. And you? You’re actually on suspended sentence for attempted murder. That divorce had a huge impact on you, making you unhinged. But his death would create further repercussions, ripples that affect our whole family... Ploy thought and stopped, an idea forming. She smirked deviously. Repercussions, eh?


Oh, he’s awake, that was what Petch could only think, proceed.

She could hear the man in front of her wheezing, gasping for air. His heart slowed. “Petch,” he said, taking off the mask. “I-I’m sorry. Please, don’t hate me.”

“I don’t hate you,” Petch finally said after a long time of warring with herself. She felt conflicted. “But I hate the things you did.”

Her lips trembled as she tried to force out the words she’d spent the last five years locking inside her.

“They truly are reprehensible.” She paused to exhale, to control her voice and body that seemed to be breaking apart. “You sent Ploy and I to that boarding school in Australia just to ‘shield’ us from the terrible environment at home and for a ‘higher standard’ of our education.” Her vision was beginning to become blurry again and her nose was flaring from rage. “You had no idea, though, did you? My English wasn’t even that good! I hated every second there! I missed home so badly, not to mention the cultural shock I had to endure. Ploy was there, which was a big help, but I could feel that I’ve walling myself off! I can’t help but think that she’s not going to be a permanent thing in my life! That she’ll eventually leave me one day!”

By the time she finished, sobs were racking through her. Her shoulders shook intensely. Snot and tears slathered all over her face. She didn’t move to wipe them away. She was defiant. Even to her own body, she had to make it know that she was in control of it.

“Petch,” her father cooed, and in his eyes she could almost glimpse the person he used to be. A playful, cheerful guy who could lighten the atmosphere of their home after a stressful day of work and school. “If it’s a one type of relationship bond that can’t be sever, it’s family. We’re related by blood. In one way or another, we’ll always find each other in the end no matter what.”

She was not sure what was going through his mind, but for that moment, she was grateful. It felt so long since he was helpful. She reached over and pressed the nurse call button before deciding that it was her cue to leave.

“Petch,” he called after her.

“Thanks, Dad,” she said, opening the door and going through it. She had the smallest smile of smiles playing on her lips.

At the same time, a couple of floors below, Ployed swiftly reached over to kiss her mother on the cheek and embraced her without thinking, saying “Thank you, Ma. I know now what to do to save my sister.”



A while later, Petch could be found walking along the beach, which wasn’t really specifically spectacular. There were no white fine grains of sand blanketing the clear aquamarine sea. Garbage, seashells, and twigs littered the ground. To top it off, the water was murky. But Pattaya was a good enough beach. Enough for city people to escape from their hectic lives with merely a two-to-three-hour drive. Enough for someone who just wanted to know and feel what a beach was like.

Enough for her to know that this was the place that her sister liked to be. Well, and the fact that Petch was having a phone against her ear, trying in vain to call Ploy and listening to the message, “Hello, this is Ploy. I’m unavailable right now, but if this is Petch, you know where to find me. Probably… Bye!” before it went to voicemail. Really, though, Ploy was the type of person who liked to ponder, listening to the sound of waves, relaxing and letting go of reality. It soothed her just to lounge in the sun and watch the world go by.

Petch walked until she could see neon lights flashing the letters “Pattaya city” far, far away in the dark night sky. The breeze brushed her body, cooling her. This was how this place worked: nature co-existing well with man-made structures, a beauty in its own style.

Perhaps this was the relationship Petch had with her sister. She, the artificial and hollow object, and Ploy, the pure and sentient being that decorated her to be a person with more meaning; something Petch had chosen to ignore.


For the length she’d strolled so far, there was nobody in sight. Sudden fear gripped her heart. Millions of scenarios ran through her mind. Was it too late now? Too late that she just realized how they needed to depend on each other, that their strengths and weaknesses fulfilled each other.

She continued on her trail until she tripped on something. She was about to see what that something was when she saw a figure treading deeper and deeper into the ocean.

“Hey, you!” Petch pocketed her phone and cupped her hands around her mouth, amplifying her voice. It was probably a girl from the hair that was fanning around her. The water quickly reached her neck when it had been previously chest-leveled. “Before you die from drowning, haven’t you considered that you can die from rip current? Well...that can cause you to drown, but it would be nastier, more sudden, and intense. If that does happen, just don’t panic. It’d feel like getting sucked by quicksand.”

The girl stopped and turned around.

Petch was shocked, speechless. Her mouth hung open, unable to form words. Because although it was dark and there were clouds in the sky, the outline was familiar to her. Too familiar for her liking, in fact. There was no way she could be mistaken.

“Ploy,” Petch said, collapsing to her knees. “...why?”

So you decided to leave me, too? Petch thought, breathing raggedly and clutching her chest. Tears clouded her vision, turning everything blurry. Am I not worth it?

There was a crunch of sand under a pair of feet.

She clawed at the sand as she sensed a hand on her shoulder rather than actually feeling it, as if she wasn’t there. As if she was merely an entity watching everything unfolding before her from afar. Her own hands found something circular attached to a string. It was a sand dollar, she realized, her eyes widening in remembrance.

Like other animals, sand dollars also have their own adaptation. Ploy’s voice echoed through Petch’s head. Against rough tides, mostly, the adults are heavy enough to not get swept away, but the children, still light, will eat sand to stay heavy. Petch, don’t easily get swept away by your problems, okay? Be like a sand dollar.

“Petch,” her sister called her as she stared into the still, calm sea. Somehow, she hoped that it was someone else.

“To die on your birthday,” Petch heard herself say, her voice sounded strange like she was speaking underwater while looking at her sister directly in the eye. “And here of all places you can choose, Ploy?”

She recollected how their family used to come to this very beach and collected seashells.  Whoever was able to collect the most got to decide how they were going to spend the afternoon.

Their parents would regale stories to the sisters, one of them being that shells used to be our currency. They’d even pretend that the shells were real money. Sometimes, there would be sand dollars to see. And their parents would tell them that this creature could also be called sand cake, cake urchin, pansy shell and sea biscuit.

It was probably one of the happiest moments in her life. Probably one of the realest happy moments—


Arms encircled Petch’s body. She pushed them off, getting out of her reverie.

“Why…?” She repeated once more to herself. She’d like to blame herself. She felt so powerless. “I thought we could go through this together. I thought that you’re smarter than this! Heck, the only people who can benefit from this are those reading your tombstone since it’s gonna be easy calculating the age of when you die!”

“Of course I don’t want to die!” Ploy quickly retorted before this misunderstanding could get more out of hand; rage was not the reaction she’d expected. “But I don’t want to lose you more!”

Ploy hugged herself tighten and buried her face in her chest, feeling herself enveloped in despair more than ever. “Y-you’ve been drifting away from me a-and I miss you so much, sis!” Tears flooded out of her eyes as let loose everything that had been trapped inside her. “I-it’s only a plan. A plan to fake my own death, so you’d come to your senses and open up again! I-I’m sorry! I admit that I did wrong.”

“I’m the one who should be apologizing,” Petch replied, her eyes softening. “Just because I don’t want to be hurt again, doesn’t give me a privilege to be selfish. It’s not something that can compensate for, not a valid reason. Not at all.”

“A-and you won’t be!” Ploy said, beaming as she looked up so fast she was prone to get whiplash. “Y-you can’t get rid of me even if you want to.”

“That’s a promise I’d like,” Petch said, brushing tears away from Ploy’s eyes with the pads of her thumbs. She emitted a short laugh, a tear sliding down her face. “I’m sorry. I’ve missed you, too.”

“I love you, sis.”

They embraced each other tightly as if this was a reunion after many years. And maybe in a way, it was.

“Now, let’s not get easily swept by our problems, yeah?” Petch said, patting her sister’s head gently. “Like the sand dollars.”

“Y-you—” Ploy sprang back, her eyes widened.

“Yes, I remember, baby sister.”

In her palm, the sand dollar still resided.

A/N: Yeah, so I actually wrote a story regarding my homeland. Yay...! I don't know why I've never done it.

© Copyright 2020 UnextraordinaryGirl. All rights reserved.

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