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Summer In A Grain Of Sand
The other day I opened the book I had been reading last summer, and I found some sand inside, lined at the edge of one page, along the spine. It made me think back, with longing, to the great week I spent on the beach this past August, reading, swimming, and doing not much else. My summers used to be a lot longer, when I was a boy, but then, like most things, they shortened. A week on the beach is more than most people can afford, and I count myself lucky. Still, I wasn’t on the beach, the other day. I was in my flat in the city, with rain and cold outside.
There was something odd about the sand.
I couldn’t tell exactly what. I touched it, and it was warm, as if it were under the August sun, but I could’t be sure I wasn’t imagining it. I thought I could feel a summer scent, like sunscreen and watermelon. I looked at the grains closely. Their shape seemed peculiar.
I rummaged through my husband’s things, until I found the heavy cast-iron magnifier which had been the pride of his father - the bastard. I brought one grain under the lens, and saw.
The grain was perfectly sculpted in the likelihood of a person I have not seen in thirty-odd years. He was a boy I used to play with for one summer. I hadn’t thought of him for a long while, but seeing his face, so perfectly sculpted, brought me back to that year, the first time I thought another boy could be handsome.
I picked another grain of sand. That was sculpted too, in the face of the bartender who held the Sea Star, the little bar on the beach where I hung with my friends when I was a teenager. I move on, and I saw boys and girls, lovers, bullies, merchants, traitors, sailors, all the people who had made my summers, year after year. Until I got to the last grain. It was perfectly smooth, not sculpted at all, yet.
I have the feeling something will appear there next summer.
And I can’t help but wonder why there is only one grain left.