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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 136 comments. Post your own now!

BlackKittie said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm
this is good...but it doesnt sound natural at some parts...too many adjectives and big words can take away from your main point because the reader is trying to figure out what you mean...over all, its good.keep writing!
LaBella said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm
This  was amazing.......thats all i can say. :) keep writing please.
Kgirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm
And that sounded nothing like Jane Austen or Hawthorne.  They lived during a time in which their books would have been banned if even published for creating the imagery of a boy and girl unchaperoned and embracing on a beach.  Plus it wasn't the language they use either...
starfishgurl said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 12:07 pm
the story was a little - just a little - like the last song. but the writing was your own. very unique and i admire your great detail and amazing talent you put into this. please write more :)
x0x0Luckyx0x0 said...
May 19, 2010 at 9:39 am
Don't get me wrong, you did an amazing job, however, I feel like i've read it before. It sounds a lot like "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks. The lines are lines I've read before in other books and somehow I feel like maybe you got to carried away with trying to make it sound like all the other love/romance novels and stories out there. Make it your own. This is an amazing peice, but make it more unique to the characters and yourself. :] I really enjoyed this peice.
ExileOnMainstreet said...
May 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm
look if you  want to call someone out for plagirizing, go for it, I respect that. But if you're just going to rip on not only this author but great authors like Jane Austen (not Austin), please keep it to yourself. This is for critiques, not for people to rip on each other, okay 'girrrrrrrl' ?
Someone_Who_Is_Loved said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm
I agree with ExileOnMainstreet. The part that says "Get a new hobby" was harsh. I liked the story :) Keep ur hobby!!!!! U'r good @ it.
MedievalMouse94 said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 10:33 am
I agree with Someone and Exile. Jealousy is not becoming. Just because you can't understand someone's writing doesn't mean they can't write. Maybe you just need to invest in a dictionary.
PrincessPineapple said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 6:03 am
Wow! This is an amazing story. the descriptions are beautiful. i can picture the exact scene in my head. well done!
starfishgurl replied...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm
I know! The writing painted a beautiful picture in my head. I wanted to read it more and more. So descriptive! :D
QiYueR. said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 12:35 am
This is super good! Keep up the good work!
PureBlue101 said...
Apr. 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm
This was a really good story... but it seemed kinda sad that they both figured out that their love was dead. Very good.
Zoya* said...
Mar. 16, 2010 at 6:19 pm
The story Summer Skin, by Maria D. really puts a poetic feel to the strongly shown character development that is woven throught her story.
The 3 elements of character development that I saw the most when reading this was Characters opinion, Dialogue and backround knowledge. Each element gets the reader closer to the character being developed.
This story is narrorated in first person foremost. You can really hear what Maria D. was thinking. She would tell me things that were about t... (more »)
Meli(: said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 11:11 pm
Wow this was amazing! Just so great it was so peaceful and sad. :)
Bambi3226 said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 8:55 pm
I've said it once, I'll say it again. Love is like a rose. It buds, flourishes, and then...dies. Nice job.
. replied...
Apr. 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm
that's a different way of putting it.
bobgrlz said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm
amazing wording! nice way of describing!
darbie said...
Feb. 20, 2010 at 7:56 pm
I felt happy after reading this. Just happy. I mean not quite a happy ending. But just an amazing piece. Thank you for writing it.
j-rye This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 29, 2010 at 12:42 am
i was drawn in by the first few sentences!
please take a look at some of my peices:)
weirdonpurpose said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm
do you see all these comments...? all the people who love this? i can say i am one of them. your are a true artist, putting poetry in motion.
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