Sand Castle

by Jeremy Poolet


It seems she has stood there for hours, watching the waves wash upon the shore. The midnight moon slowly slides across the sunset sky, the stars shine bright, almost blinding, but she barely notices. The beach below beckons her, but it’s too late, she’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Footsteps from behind frighten her. Father. Her eyes race across his face, tracing the lines. She lowers her eyes, sinks deep, deep inside... where she hides.

Her head down, she walks around him to her room where the moon can’t follow.

And she sleeps, and dreams, of sand and beach, of hands that hold too tight, and she fights the tears that always come.

Morning sun strikes her face and she wakes. She is invisible, and makes her way to the beach, her eyes barely open because of the blinding midday sun. She finds a quiet spot of sand and she builds herself a new home.

She is almost finished when father calls. It’s late, he says. They only seem to notice me when I’m late, she thinks. She looks back as she follows father to the house. She watches the violet lit clouds sweep across the fading blue sky, and she watches the tide tear down her almost finished home.

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow never seems to come soon enough. But, as always, today is tomorrow, and she wakes, and waits and watches, wanting only what she can’t have. And once again, she crosses the kitchen, unnoticed, to the door.

She opens the door slowly, savoring it. She swings it wide and stands there, loving the view. Outside. Out. She lets the door creak closed behind her.

She steps out on the porch. Father is there, reading his newspaper. He notices her. Soft wind rustles his paper, whispering to her. She tries to understand what it says, but she can’t.

His hands hold the paper still and fold it. He turns to her and asks why she goes to the beach every day. He has noticed.

She lies instead of cries and says she just likes to play in the sand. Father wouldn’t understand.

He wouldn’t understand what the sand is to her. The sand is something she can’t describe; the words are lost on her lips. The sand is always there for her. It’s like sunshine: bright, beautiful. The sand is outside, out, away... The sand can be anything she wants, anything she can make it be. The sand can be home...

But sunshine can’t always last forever. It soon starts to rain, and father comes to take her inside, away from home. Again she’s lost her way, lost another day. So close...

She sits and stares out her window, watching the rain wash away another day. She sighs and dies inside... inside. She feels trapped, and raps softly on the surface of the glass.

Darkness ends day and she sleeps. She cries unconscious tears and she wakes from her dream. The darkness seems to scream at her, and she lies awake and waits for morning.

Today she starts early. Her curly hair uncombed, she steps out into the shadow of the sun.

The fresh scent of lilacs attacks her senses, making her smile. The looks up; the sun overhead seems to smile back. She notices that there aren’t any clouds in the sky today. Today... She smiles.

She carries her pail and shovel and sits down on the sand. She starts the foundation for her new home.

She stops only for a sandwich and some soda when the sun is directly above her, ready to make his descent.

She works for hours, but finally she sees the sun is getting closer to the water, the water is getting closer to her home. The tide will swallow it soon. She has to hurry.

She hears the front door open wide; father is coming to take her inside.

But she is almost done. She won’t let this slip away from her again. She works quickly but carefully, makes sure everything is in place.

Her finger carves the scar of the doorway; dirt turns to stone.

Her home is finally finished. She brushes the sand from her hands and opens the door.

Father calls out her name and looks around, but she’s nowhere to be found. He looks down and sees the sea splash against his shoes.

And he watches as a lonely sand castle is carried away on the water...


Copyright © 2008 by Jeremy Poolet

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