Distorted (Short Story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tentatively titled. A short story about how memories are locked into our minds, and our perception of them. It's hard to explain, but make of it what you will.
I believe I wrote it about a year ago, at least the first version, then edited back in April. I've definitely grown since then, but keep in mind I was fourteen at the time. :)
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Submitted: November 26, 2011

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Submitted: November 26, 2011

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I walk along the beach, but it has all changed.

It’s the one I’ve always known. As children, we would come here on family vacations, throw our towels out across the sand and bolt towards the water, our feet slipping against the tiny rocks beneath our feet. Then we’d fling ourselves into the lake, which was always crystal-clear and cool. It wasn’t until much later that we’d emerge, dripping wet and ecstatic.

In my memories, the weather was always perfect. Sunny blue skies, the air hot-but-not-humid. Ideal beach weather.

Now it is gloomy. Thick, stubborn gray clouds block out the sun, and a cold wind blows my hair away from my face.

Now is different. Now, I am alone. The water level has risen higher than ever, submerging at least ten feet of the sandy shore in water. The sand that is still uncovered is damp and clumpy from the previous night’s rain. It springs up and clings onto the back of my calves as I walk.

I step cautiously closer to the water. A wave crashes over my toes, sending a chill through my whole body.

I know I am here.

And yet, all I can remember are the innocent times. When I could play and have fun without being conscious of all this.

I walk further along the shoreline, stopping once to pick up a large shell. It barely fits into the palm of my hand and is a gleaming pinkish silver. I smile; this is familiar. Collecting shells is the type of thing I remember doing.

I press the shell to my ear, remembering how I really used to believe you could hear the ocean through it. And for a moment, I squeeze my eyes shut and block out the rest of the world and imagine it is the ocean. It thrums out a pattern, like waves crashing against the shore. It’s nice to pretend, for even a false second of ignorance loosens my grasp on reality’s hold. It feels good.

But then my eyelids shoot open. I can’t let myself get lost in the memories, even if they’re better than what’s here now.

I take a deep breath and, suddenly, thrust the shell out into the raging water with all my might. It goes a couple hundred feet out and then sinks. I’m hit with the realization that I never, ever want to see it again.

I sink down into the sand and then, for the first time, really survey the area.

The water and the wind are both fierce today; there are whitecaps further out at sea. It reminds me of the time I was out kayaking and the waves were too high and then I tipped, and it was so sudden and yet so overwhelmingly fun, to be out in the middle of the lake with nothing surrounding  me but water and sky.

I push the memory back. If I can’t snap out of sentiment land, I won’t ever get anywhere.

The world is all very clear now – it’s all very here.

I ask myself the question I should have realized long ago. Why would I want to go back, when forward’s the only way out?

Maybe, sometimes, you only see what you want to, I realize. When you remember something in all its loveliness, everything else is suppressed. You hold it forever as your personal keepsake – not all, just one memory. And it’ll only ever have shallow beauty, because true beauty is only found one place… where no one really wants to look.

Without a clear intention, I find a stick and begin carving words into the sand along the edge of the water. I start with a circle, which slowly turns into a sun. I add sunglasses and a grin like I would have eight years ago, feeling stupid.

Within seconds, a wave has glided over the shore and taken the doodle with it, leaving no trace. It’s just another smooth, clean slate of sand.

This time I draw a clock. The hands end up pointing nowhere in particular – not that it matters really. I stand back for a second and everything seems to freeze for a millisecond.

This, I realize, is true beauty. And I’m not referring to my artwork.

Then time starts up again and a wave is already covering the clock. It smooths out the sand once again, erasing all traces of my picture.

And I just smile.


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