Ghosts in the Sand This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

May 28, 2009
More by this author
“Can you draw it? Show me what happened? Create that night here in the sand.”

The cool sand brushed over my toes as I sat in the sandbox. My finger was poised, but I hesitated, uncertain of what I could outline. So many shapes came to mind when I thought of that night. She leaned in closer, as if she were looking for a tiny piece of gold in the sand. But she relaxed in disappointment when I could produce nothing. My mind was a whirl of images, and I struggled to choose which one would best explain that night.

Thinking of my father's rough, dry hand holding mine as we walked back to the car after dinner, I started to draw a hand. But barely had I completed the thumb when I covered it up; that was only the beginning. I had still been breathing calmly, enjoying the warm spring air and my carefree four-year-old life.

I tried again, drawing the cracked sidewalk that I had skipped along – three of my quick skips matching one of my father's strides. But again I rubbed my hand over the sand, erasing my work. I was leaving out the more important things around me: the night-blooming jasmine, the car, and the dark sky that hid the strange man.

Next, I started to draw the strange man's shiny gun that could create damage far greater than its size. This seemed like a good idea: my eyes had been fixated on the gun as my father threw the man his wallet and watch. I had ­followed that glint of metal into the night as he ran off, ­satisfied.

But as my finger rounded the edge of the handle in the sand, I realized the gun alone did not embody my feelings about that night, because when the gun left, my fear did not. Once the strange man disappeared, I had grabbed a nearby tree to steady myself as my knees shook and my heart pounded. Frustrated in my attempt to draw my experience, I shoved sand across the box, looked up at the lady, and shrugged, admitting defeat.

The frustration I felt at not being able to depict that night in the sand was nothing compared to how I felt every night when I became unable to speak. Haunted by glimmering guns, flying wallets, and vanishing men, I would run down the hall to my parents' bedroom. Even though I felt safe with them, I couldn't find words to describe that night.

This had led my mother to bring me to this lady, who had a sandbox in her office and the word “Doctor” on her door.

“Try to draw just one thing from that night,” she said encouragingly.

I exhaled slowly and then plunged my hand into the cool sand. I navigated smoothly, producing a small circle and a larger circle above it.

“Can you tell me about that?” she inquired.

“That,” I pointed to the smaller circle, “is a night-blooming jasmine bud. Even though the moon is out,” I pointed to the larger circle, “it is still a bud.”

“What's wrong with it?”

“It's afraid to bloom.”

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

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

jenni said...
May 10, 2012 at 11:18 am
this is so wonderful
AwesomeHeather said...
Jan. 29, 2010 at 11:35 am
i looovvvee the ending!
Alicia-Turner said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm
This was great, I felt as if I were there.
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback