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!

Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm
Wow. Good job!!! This sounds so emotional and real!
dancer11srubin said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 1:00 am
best piece of writing i've ever read
mercebeinyata said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Nice imagery. I caught on to the story very quickly. Summer lovin', happens so faasst...

Also could everyone please check out my story called "Purple-face Tom" it's my 1st posted work on the site

emilybwrites said...
Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm
wow that really moved me. great imagery!
delete2x said...
Jul. 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm
Beautiful and so sad.
EdenDreams This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm
this is brilliant! check out some of my stuff too. i think we have similar styles. I LOVE the beach, and these descriptions are amazing! beauuutiiffuulll. :)
DisicpleofChristandJesusEnthusiast said...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 9:50 am
Great Article!!
merryMari said...
May 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm
I just finished saying the final words tto break up with my bf so this story holds a lot of meaning to me.  Thank you so much for posting this! 
theprincess95 said...
May 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm
This was so good!  It really drew me into the characters even though it was so short.  Awesome job!  I wish that happened to me :/
pamplemousse93 said...
May 28, 2011 at 6:22 am
This is incredibly well written and moving! Even though it was a short piece, I felt like I knew the characters and could sympathize with them. Keep writing; you definitely have a gift.
imawriter said...
May 6, 2011 at 9:37 pm
Wow... This is very professional. You should write more and mabye you will become a published author.
M.A.M. said...
May 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
This was an amazing story!  I almost cried and there's still the possiblity that I might. 
PaRaNoRmAl627 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm
oh my gosh. i think ive commented on this before, but i need to do it again. this is definitely the most moving thing that ive read on here. i cant quite pinpoint what hits me so hard about it, but it makes me cry. you're incredible
Debbie1 said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm
Love it!!! Are you kidding me? This was really great! It was beautiful and descriptive and just amazing!
InvisibleNerdGirl said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

This is excellent! 5/5 stars! :)

And I love the Death Cab for Cutie song "Summer Skin" too... now it's stuck in my head after reading this... ;p

TaylorJade said...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm
Oh my gosh! That was amazing... I loved it (: Great job (:
JelloAngel92 said...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 8:54 am
amazing! beautifully articulated. 5 stars for sure!
PaRaNoRmAl627 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm
that was so beautiful. i started to tear up at the end. absolutely gorgeous<3
Leah P. said...
Mar. 1, 2011 at 10:58 am
This piece is well written and is beautiful.  I loved it and I felt like I was standing there watching all of this happen. Very visual.
MMSCHEER2010 said...
Jan. 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm
This is beautifully written. I felt like I was in your shoes. (And it was kind of relatable for me in some way.) I love how descriptive you are, it really brings the piece to life. It was like I was watching a movie! I really love this piece, congrats it's my new favorite, keep writing, I'm sure we would all love to read more of your work (:
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