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


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“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.




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