Well, we’ve made it to the second consecutive week of Sam ‘n Charlie. Quite the accomplishment…

If you missed the last one, you can find it here.

And, as with the last one, feel free to use Charlie’s art as a prompt for your own post but we do ask you give her credit for her work. We’d also love to see what it inspires you to write, so leave us a link!

art by Charlie Speratis
art by Charlie Speratis

The sand burned against the bottoms of her feet, surrounding them with each step she took as her toes sunk into the alluring debris. The sound of waves rushing in filled her ears as a faint mist settled onto her skin, already tinted red from the sun. But, she was invincible. She didn’t bother to worry about things such as her light skin that would be painfully burnt and blistering by tomorrow.

There was no tomorrow, not now. Not when her hand was held in his, and not when all she could see was his silhouette against the backdrop of the gleaming ocean. There was no tomorrow, there was only this moment. This perfect moment.

He paused for a moment, gently halting her with their embraced hands, as he bent down to uncover something buried partly in the sand. With a grin, he returned to his full height and gazed down into her eyes, holding out the object to her. She pulled her eyes from his and shifted them to the shell he grasped.

Placing it into her palm, he watched as her wide eyes slid across its smooth surface, followed tentatively by her slim fingers. She traced along where the shell faded from pale pink into a creamy white, continuing on until the white changed again into a burnt orange that covered the small  ridges at the wide end of the conch.

Wrapping both of her hands around it, she held the fragile treasure against her heart and smiled up at him. Without a word, they continued walking. After a few moments, her hand returned to his while the other continued to clutch the shell to her. Neither said a word, surrounded only by the sounds of birds calling and the powerful waves answering as they crashed against the shore.

There was a certain heaviness to their silence, not entirely unpleasant but heavy. It held both peace and anxiety, joy and sorrow, calm and fear. It held everything and nothing. It was enough to drive them insane, and yet at the same time all that kept them in control.

They could both feel it, radiating from each other, the overwhelming emotion carried in their silence. But neither was willing to break it, not yet. They simply carried on, leaving behind their trails of footprints distorted by the pulling sand.

From time to time, one would shift their eyes to the side, but only when the other wasn’t looking. They would hold their breath as they memorized the lines, the curves, the details; and then let out a sigh as they looked away. They both pretended not to notice, pretended not to feel the sharp focus of eyes tracing and redrawing what they saw. They both pretended to be lost in their own thoughts, but they knew the only thoughts they had were shared.

The sun was sinking lower on the horizon, illuminating its own pathway of light on the surface of the water. Her eyes became fixed on it, following the way it shifted as waves passed through. Eventually, he became trapped by the scene as well and they both stopped walking. She tugged lightly against his arm as she slowly lowered herself to the ground, asking him to join her. Still, neither spoke. They both sat, eyes fixed on a distant point as the warmth still trapped in the sand beneath them radiated into their bodies.

She felt him shift as his shoulder brushed hers, and she sensed that their long-held silence was about to be broken. But she held her locked gaze, refusing to meet his eyes although she knew that his were already on her, waiting. He leaned closer, his heat radiating much stronger than the sand’s and burning into her skin.

“Stay,” he whispered, his breath ruffling her hair and causing the one’s on her neck to stand up. “Please, stay.”

She shivered at his words, and at the powerful emotions released by the shattered silence. Turning her head, she finally met his gaze. Everything she felt, deep into her very core, was reflected back to her in his eyes. All of her distress, all of her uncertainty, all of her worry and unease. It was all there. It was all there with even more of his own.

She could feel the stinging of tears fighting to escape and she turned quickly away from him. Her eyes focused back on the sun, wishing they could take that path. The path full of light and promise, the path that led to all of their hopes and dreams.

But, that path wasn’t one that they could walk. Even now, the sun was sinking lower and it was becoming harder and harder to see, slowly slipping further away from them. She knew there was no path for them, not one that they could travel together. They would not leave tonight hand in hand.

No, it wouldn’t be like when they came. It couldn’t be like that. This time, they would not leave a trail of their footprints, overlapping and crossing. Together.

She rose up, standing for a moment beside him. He desperately reached for her, his hands trying to find hers, but she took one step away. One step beyond his reach. In his eyes, she could see the tears pooling, on the verge of spilling over, and she was sure he saw the same in hers.

She held her hand out, slowly letting her fingers trace the lines of his face one last time. Then, she was moving away from him, leaving behind their trail of footprints, the path of where they’d come from, and walking forward alone.

It wasn’t until long after his outline had disappeared behind her and been swallowed up by the darkness of oncoming night that she realized the shell was still clutched to her chest. She stopped and let it fall from her hands, creating an explosion of sand as it hit the ground. Without another glance, she continued walking, leaving it behind.

But, within five steps she had returned and carefully picked it back up, brushing off the sand and then pressing it back against her heart.

Even now, all of these years later, she still found herself clutching that shell as she thought about that night. She let her fingers trace along its now worn surface; from pink, to white, to orange. She let her mind wander, let it run wild with all of the variables, all of the things that could have been. She let herself remember that boy, and she let herself remember that girl.

Then, she would place the shell back up on its shelf and return to reality. That boy was gone, that girl was changed. Whatever things that could have been were nothing more than eroded possibilities, grains of sand scattered on a beach of past paths. There was nothing left of what was other than a worn and cracked shell, a memory of broken hearts.

A memory of a path that split and led them their own ways.