Summer Skin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The cool breeze sifts through my limbs, slipping and sliding through unexplored parts. For a moment the rest of the world slips away, scrubbed clean and absolved by the waves. I’d like to dive into that ocean, feel the water crash down on me, suppress me, remind me that I’m not the only thing that matters. But I can’t. Not now. Not yet. I should be here when you wake up, because that was the one sincere promise I made you.

I don’t even want to try leaving right now – not when it was you who looked at me in that way that taught me what it was to feel the ground beneath my feet disappear. Tiny rivulets of water slither down your temple, and I’m tempted to brush them away. I hold back, remembering what my father always told me: “The one you mark is the one you keep.” And I don’t want to mark you because I’m not sure if I’ll keep you. I’m not sure if I’ll keep you, and I’m even less sure about whether you’d survive it. Maybe it’s because I know you feel me slipping away despite your desperate clutching, like the grains of sand you held so tightly in your palm not two hours ago. Or was it years? It doesn’t matter.

The past has passed, and what’s left of it except a few recollections that’ll be buried beneath a surface of newer memories? Maybe you don’t feel the same way, and you’ll wake believing that the past is the segue to our future. Oh, what I wouldn’t give so that you’d wake to think about your next encounter instead. A part of me – the part that wishes this would never end – wants to convince me that I should stay, because you’re too bruised and too vulnerable and too fragile to do this on your own. The part of me that knows it’ll just be later rather than sooner overpowers the other.

The sand shifts slightly and, without looking, I know you’re reaching out for me. I bite down on my tongue gently, forcibly swallowing a groan of frustration. Against my better judgment, I offer you my hand and feel yours slip into it, entwining and tangling. Your hand is as familiar to me as my own, the leathery feel of your skin and long-dried salt strangely comforting. How could it not be, when I can recount thousands of paths traced upon the lines of my face with the wandering pads of your thumbs? Every trail embedded on your palm tells of every secret meeting we’ve had, all testaments to our fairy-tale story.

Fleetingly, I wonder if I’ll have the courage to stay when the silvery tones are replaced by glowing warmth. Then you stir again and it’s not hard for me to remember why I can’t stay within fields of golden scenery and humid, still air.

You exhale and I inhale. The moon is bright, illuminating the sky and shining like a large quarter in the expanse of navy blue above us. I tilt my head and glance at you, carelessly sprawled out. Surely you wouldn’t be so nonchalant if you knew. Your sunset skin and long limbs make me think of our summer, brightness and oceans bursting behind my eyelids. Your face is all angles and planes, like a high school geometry lesson. You’re squirming again, and I know that it’ll be only a matter of minutes before you wake.

“You’re leaving?” Your voice is rough with sleep, but somehow it’s still like warm molasses.

“Well, you’re awake now,” I say neutrally. It’s not a direct answer, and I know you hate it.

Your hand slips from mine and you rub your eyes, so blue they put the spring sky to shame. “Are we ever going to talk?”

“There’s nothing to say.” I shrug and promptly wince, remembering why I hate the sun. My shoulders are red and achy, sensitive even against the thin fabric of my shirt.

“Okay.” You nod slowly. “Okay.” We’re quiet for a few moments before you reach out and brush a strand of hair from my face. I know there’s more to this. “Things get lost without anyone noticing on the way, you know.” Your tone is quiet. Not angry. Not sad. Quiet.

“We’re a mistake we knew we were making,” I reply. “Four weeks isn’t enough to make something real. It’s not like we could have had forever.”

“Love that’s real doesn’t need to have forever,” you say, just as quietly.

I contemplate my words carefully. In the end, honesty wins over tact. “This isn’t real.”

It takes another long, steady moment before you decide to speak again. When you do, I sigh with weariness.

“You were the loneliest place I’ve ever been in.”

“And you thought you could fix that?”

“I wish I could have.”

We are both looking up at the sky, wondering why the stars aren’t out. Maybe they’re hiding behind a veil of thin clouds. Your arm is barely brushing mine, almost inconceivably. I think of how many times I pictured this moment, this ending point. It’s nothing like the dramatic scene in my mind. It’s almost as if the strings connecting us had been snapping one by one, softening the final blow.

I’ll miss you, your broad smile and loud laughter. I can close my eyes and almost picture you bounding up the stairs to my family’s summer home. I’ll miss the days we spent on the dock, playing that stupid game where we name the passing boats. I’ll miss your black leather jacket that always smelled of humid afternoons and sunshine. I’ll miss your golden hair and the small freckles that dot the bridge of your nose and the tops of your cheeks. I’ll miss the birthmark right below your left shoulder blade, the one shaped like Italy. I’ll miss your family. I’ll miss your dog. I’ll miss your room. I’ll miss your car.

Somehow, despite all of this, I still say, “See you around.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 136 comments. Post your own now!

DiamondsIntheGrass This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm
I'm confused.  does she  have some mystical power or something?  Why can't they stay together?  its really well written, but i could use some more explaining.
Jessica P. replied...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm
But don't you see? That's just it. You have to be the one to decide what happens
Someone_Who_Is_Loved replied...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm
I agree with DiamondsIntheGrass.... Im confused too..... :/
lswithspunk replied...
Jan. 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Sometimes stories are best when they're discreet.  That way you can daydream about what happens next. :)

Loved It!

beautifulworld said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm
Wow! I loved this piece. I could picture everything that you were writing perfectly. Each sentence had me hanging  on to your every word. Excellent work!!
Aelita said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 4:39 pm
I like it- but you hinted at something more supernatural... what was that?  Can you please check out my stories?
CrazyWriter said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm

This is amazeing-ly awemose-ly great! you should write a sequal or something. i love i just had to keep reading Great work!!! :)


Macx14 said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 11:00 am
Your writing is wonderful!! I was just captivated, don't EVER stop!!!:D
abigail(: This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 13, 2010 at 10:14 am
your writing is so beautiful! (:
MedievalMouse94 replied...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 10:38 am
Excellent descriptions and use of vocavulary. I could picture everything. The story is sad and sweet and romantic all at once. Simply amazing.
Someone_Who_Is_Loved said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm
I liked it, but I kind of didn't understand the plot. I still have questions, and that's not good. A reader should never have questions.
CrazyWriter replied...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm
i disagree a reader should have some questions to guess at what happenes.
Someone_Who_Is_Loved replied...
Jul. 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm
Not at the end...... Throughout the book ya, but not at the end :P
CrazyWriter replied...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 9:06 am
 I guess you are right....
MaddieGr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Depends on the kind of question. I think you should leave a few questions for the reader to answer themselves. Making connections myself is my favorite part of reading. If the author spells everything out, it cuts down imagination and creativity.
JordanNicole replied...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 11:52 am
I totally agree with MaddieGr. As a writer you want your audiance to ask questions and send feedback. That way you can help them understand your work and become a better autor at the same time.
Someone_Who_Is_Loved replied...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm
Ya, but I had questions that sum readers SHOULDNT have. And I had tons of them too :) Whatever, I still like the story
BriannaKaye13 said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 3:43 pm
Wow! This is amazing. Great job! (:
Munira Noor M. said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 4:45 am
this is pretty cool. the story's kinda sad. But its good. I really like it! Two thumbs up and a smile!
fh4life said...
Jun. 17, 2010 at 11:01 am
I think your story was amazing! and like nothing i ever read before! keep on writing!
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