Shifting Sand MAG

January 11, 2012
By Joe Haynes BRONZE, Medford, Massachusetts
Joe Haynes BRONZE, Medford, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

After an hour of looking to the horizon over a blue-green piece of serene glass, down the stairs came yesterday’s birthday boy looking like a million bucks, dark circles under half-open eyes, old hat over uncombed hair. I knew our swim would be the closest thing he had to a shower that morning.

It was 9 a.m. on August 23rd. The night before, my best friend turned 18 and we had celebrated accordingly. That night my eyelids did not fall but to blink, so I wandered down to the beach to unwind and try, in vain, to hold on to the night that had already given way to the rising sun, and try to grasp a few moments of the quickly fleeing summer already giving way to autumn-painted leaves.

Though we looked terrible and felt even worse, we smiled at the sight of each other, remembering the fun of the night before. One part of him asleep and the other dead, he slowly sauntered through the crowd, across the sand toward me. He parked himself and his old rainbow-striped chair beside me, just as he had every summer for over a decade. He clumsily crashed into the low seat, simultaneously letting out an exhausted groan, and violently reclined his chair until it was parallel to the scorching sand. I do not know if he fell asleep, but he did fall silent until the great sphere was at its highest on the ceiling of our cloudless blue tent.

All the while I silently sat and watched two young boys run and jump into the blue-green sheet of glass which, to my surprise, did not break or even crack, but rather seemed to swallow, ingest and then happily regurgitate them. When asked their ages, the bigger one quickly shot out 56, the other hesitantly said 50. The latter’s age was quickly and snobbishly reduced to 49 by the former, who had apparently learned multiplication in his extra year (seven in dog years) of experience.

The two boys seemed to be surrounded by an air of contentment as they played, just as I was surrounded by the sweltering heat and bright light from the sun. I sat for what seemed like an eternity, envying the carefree boys. They reminded me of a forgotten era when I played with the seemingly dead kid beside me till the sun reluctantly hid behind the inn. We played every game you could imagine, and some only the combined imaginations of boys seven and eight years old could dream up. We rode waves that now pass just above our knees, failed every day at digging to China and ran home to catch “Saved By the Bell.”

As I sat watching how happy the boys were at play, I wanted nothing more than to be their age for just one day, even one hour. It seemed time was laughing at its dominance over my life. There were reminders all around of time’s ever-shifting sands, its always-turning tides and the sun perpetually moving overhead. Just yesterday my friend blew out 18 candles; I remember getting yelled at for sticking my finger in the frosting that held only eight burning shafts of wax.

Realizing Apollo was still rapidly riding his golden chariot across the sky, I roused the unconscious mess at my side. And just like the two boys, we recklessly ran toward the water, kicking sand on people’s towels as we went, and dove together into the comfortably cold Atlantic Ocean.

I felt as if I was diving back into my distant past. Before surfacing I held my breath for an extra moment, sensing that in the water I had actually beat time. I expected to be greeted by a chubby, missing-toothed, wiffle-headed boy. I surfaced with wide eyes, but to my dismay all I found different about the young man who was off to college in three days was that he was a little less groggy after his dip in the nippy water.

Once again time triumphed over me, but because of that transitory moment when I held my breath, I know someday I will conquer time. And the sun will rise in the West and set in the East, and all the lost days that have fallen behind me will be laid new in front of my unbelieving eyes. And I will recapture my past.

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