Sand And Shadows
Zobia Khan, Grade 9, Sule College
Excellence Award in the 'Legendary 2012' competition
“Who’s that?” Heath gestured to a teenage girl in red bathers, resting on the sand. He raised an eyebrow, “She’s pretty hot. Your girlfriend?” Liam shook his head. Heath frowned, “What the hell is she doing?” he said as she wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked to and fro. Her bright blue eyes tracked the rolling waves on the shore. Liam left Heath and strolled over to her. Liam had to tap her shoulder twice to get her attention. She turned slowly, a hazy smile on her face, finally registering his presence.
Liam smiled affectionately, “Want some ice-cream?” Isabelle lifted her head to nod and then looked out to sea again, as if she had changed her mind. Liam gently pulled Isabelle up. Suddenly, she tugged her hand free and walked off. She brushed her blond curls from her eyes and gazed forlornly at a seagull, swooping towards the horizon. Liam put a hand on her shoulder. Isabelle had grown close to him over the years and didn’t cringe from his touch anymore. “Izzy?” he said in a gentle tone acquired from years of handling her.
“I found...” she trailed off like she had forgotten what to say. When Isabelle had first spoken to Liam her parents had been shocked. Never had she spoken around them but with Liam she managed a few words. She had immediately bonded with her school friend, until he was the most significant person in her life. In time even her parents recognised this. Isabelle found a small rock and placed it in her palm, running her hand over the same bump over and over again. “It’s a rock Izzy,” Liam said carefully. “It’s a rock Izzy,” Isabelle echoed his words. Liam sighed, when she repeated him it was a clear sign that her autism was getting the better of her.
Without notice, the sand beneath Liam’s feet gave way. Isabelle grabbed his arm tightly, her hold the only thing keeping him from falling into the abyss that had opened up. Liam gazed down in terror and was met with an endless darkness. He could feel Isabelle’s delicate hands slipping from his arm, clammy with sweat. Isabelle leaned forward. “Look,” she said, her eyes widening. Liam fought to keep his grip, paranoia building in his chest. Isabelle frowned in disappointment when Liam didn’t respond.
Isabelle was desperate to show him whatever her imagination had conjured in that hole. “Izzy don’t!” Liam yelled as the sand beneath her legs began to slide as she leaned further. “Look!” she cried, frustrated. Liam gulped, “Izzy just pull back a-” Isabelle wasn’t happy with the amount of attention Liam was paying to her find. Angrily, she raised a slender hand to point into the darkness and with only a single hand holding on, Liam’s weight was too much for her small frame. Fear flashed in Isabelle’s eyes as Liam fell but was almost immediately replaced by a vague curiosity. She didn’t even scream when she toppled in after him.