Words By Kerry Lane, Art By Hailey Renee
There is one beach in particular that becomes metal at light-change. The sea pewter, the sky steel, the banked embers of our fire copper slag.
I woke up hurting. We are not teenagers anymore, and the sand is cold and uncomfortable no matter how beautiful the sea or the sky or the fire. The gulls began flinging themselves from the clifftops before there was light enough to see their silhouettes, to pick them out from the papercut trees. Their screams cut through the damp air.
I turned back to see J’s eyes open. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me or out to the beach. A button from my jacket had imprinted deeply into his cheek. He doesn’t toss as much when we sleep out here; maybe it’s the cold. I never remember dreaming, either.
“Look.” He shifted, inclined his head.
I squinted into the darkness in the back of the cave, blinking to dispel the bright sheet of the sky from my vision.
“What is it?”
“Little blue. Look.”
I saw it the way you always see things you’re straining to see in the dark; it wasn’t there and then suddenly it was, without any of the lines or shapes perceptibly changing. It puffed up and glared.
There was a small, angry pause. Then, having said its piece, the little penguin tossed its head and proceeded grumbling towards the ocean, going out of its way to make a wide curve around the humans taking over the mouth of its cave. I watched it go, leaving a sidewinding shuffle trail in the dry sand.
“What’s the time?” J asked.
“Dunno. Phone’s in my bag. Nearly sunrise.”
He wriggled in his sleeping bag over to the rock I was sitting on and leaned against my knee. His hair smelled of woodsmoke. After a few moments, an arm emerged from the bag to curl around my ankle. I could feel his breath faintly, warm through my jeans.
Color began to creep back into the world. As we looked out over the goldening tussock and the sand, the sun stole over the horizon to turn the sky and sea from metal to silver glass.