Drunkard's Gem This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 5, 2010
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Samuel was lying on his back atop a slab of bedrock that stretched out above the waves. A crescent moon hung above him, tilted like the Cheshire Cat's smile. His thoughts wandered to Alice in Wonderland. And then to Alice.


Valentine's Day was coming up in a few days. He hadn't gotten her anything special yet. Yellow roses and dark chocolate. Those were a given. He'd probably go to town tomorrow and find a third item.

He drew a breath and exhaled, watching the steam dance in little wisps, then disappear into the night air. It was warm for February, but cold to be out at night. He pulled the sleeves of his sweatshirt around his hands, and went back to thinking about Alice. Beautiful Alice, who was so different from her lousy excuses for parents.

His thoughts often scattered like this, like fragments of smashed glass. They jumped about in no particular pattern, and rarely resulted in anything productive.

Samuel sat up and turned toward the men standing a hundred yards away. The wind carried their Guinness breath toward him. Drunkards, he thought. A bearded man raised his arm and shattered a bottle on the rocks. Samuel thought he heard others curse him for smashing a half full bottle.

“Of course they'd think of it like that,” muttered Samuel. He watched as the waves sucked up the glass and backwashed beer. He cringed. It must be a sin to intoxicate an ocean.

Samuel passed his hand through
his salt-caked hair. He stood up and ran barefoot over the rocks, nimble across the slick surface. He slowed when he reached the sand, allowing the soft shore-earth to console his toes.

The bearded man was the first to notice his ­approach. He yelled to the boy, something fairly benign, but Samuel couldn't make out the words. They took a few steps ­toward one another. The other men took no notice.

Samuel's eyes lingered on the man's face. He was scarred. Twice on the right cheek, once above the eye. Samuel wondered if it was related to past drunken glass-smashing.

“Why do you do that?” asked Samuel.

“Do what?” His English accent was surprisingly clear.

“Smash bottles into the sea. It's ­terrible.”

The man rubbed a hand over his sand-colored whiskers, and pushed his hair out of his eyes. He took a few steps closer to Samuel. “Naw. Not ­terrible. Beautiful.”

Samuel was silent for a few moments. The sandy-haired man bent down and sifted his hands through the water. After a few moments he pulled out a small opaque stone that looked as though it had caught a moonbeam.

“You see this?” he asked. He tossed it to Samuel. “This is a ­drunkard's gem.”

The boy blinked. “Sea glass?”

The strange man nodded. “You wouldn't get this kind of beauty without something as hideous as them.” He cocked his head toward the men hollering by the water. “The ocean can purify just about anything.”

Samuel looked down at the smoothed piece in his hand, and then at the hooligans by the sea. The sea ­really could turn violence into beauty.

Later that week, Samuel drilled a hole through the piece of sea glass the whiskered man had given him. He delicately wove a strand of brown leather through it, and set it by the yellow roses and dark chocolate.

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 9 comments. Post your own now!

Mikel G. said...
Jul. 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm
Wow! Very good. And an ode to the ocean is right. It shows the simplicity of it and how it can do anything. 
Aidyl said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm
I definitely understand how this is an ode to the Ocean. I love the ending, how it tied with the beginning and gave the character and story another dimension.
UncleSara said...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm
I loved this story so much. I read it in the magazine, and the idea and symbolic meaning of the little piece of glass stuck in my head for a long time. You're a great writer and it was a privelige to read something so well done :}
clairexaudrey This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm
I read this in the magazine and I absolutely love it. You are an amazing writer and I love the quote "The ocean can purify just about anything". Continue to write and share your talent with the world (:
h.a.n.n.a.h. said...
Jun. 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm
you are an amazing writer. this is an amazing piece of work. i love it!
alexia said...
Jun. 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm
what a remarkable writer...i've read and re read this over and over..I love it..
StarlingChild This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm
Beautifully written. I loved your theme of purifying awful things into something good. Keep it up!
Tracy1 replied...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm
What an exceptional piece of work!!!
Kaitrin A. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm
Thank you :)
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