Not a word was spoken. The only sight was delicate hands weaving in and out, desperately trying to be artistic. In the distance, I could hear the crashing waves, the chirping birds. I could hear my sister’s quiet breathing, her fingers working expertly, cutting and gluing with precision.
I tried to mimic her, a silent conversation flowing between us, but then suddenly, my elbow came in contact with something hard.
“Crap,” I mumbled, the fragile glass bottle falling and shattering into a million pieces.
I dropped to my knees and furiously wiped the glitter off the wooden floor with my hand, instead, creating a bigger mess. Tiny specs of glitter clung to my skin, and I wiped it on my pants, and the glitter transferred to the threads of fabric.
Val laughed, a sound like bells. She knelt next to me, a paper in her hands, cleaning the glitter more fluidly than me. She grinned at me, then pulled me to my feet.
“There’s no point in cleaning the whole thing up. No matter what, tiny bits of glitter will always be there… waiting… watching,” she added sinisterly.
I smiled, looking back at the table, a total mess after our failed attempts at making a scrapbook.
“Come on,” she said, placing her hand on my shoulder and steering me to the backdoor. “Let’s go for a walk.”
I walked, my shoes abandoned inside the house, the soft sand tickling my toes, the water sloshing gently against my feet.
I looked at Haley and smiled. She was chatting away, talking about random things as the sun shone rays at her hand, making glitter sparkle. My smile widened, and she didn’t notice, too engrossed in her tales to pay any attention to her surroundings.
I looked at the sea, the sun making the water a dazzling blue. The sky was perfectly clear, not a single cloud in sight. Birds flew, their wings flapping gently. It truly was a beautiful day.
FIVE MONTHS LATER
I stood by the shore, my white cotton dress billowing out behind me. My bronze hair was twirling in the wind, my fingers gently wrapped around a bouquet of flowers. I looked out to the sea, sand caressing my feet.
I lifted up the flowers and inhaled their sweet scent. Lavenders, Val’s favorite.
I let my arms drop, looking without seeing. My mind was blank, it was like my soul left my body, leaving an empty shell of a person.
I was dimly aware of someone’s sharp gaze on me.
I stared at her, marveling at her beauty. She was fluid, even in stillness, a goddess.
I often came to this beach, trying to clear my chaotic thoughts, but I never saw her.
A white dress was draped around her, glittering in the sunlight. Her straight brown hair hung down to her waist, and her thin hands were clutching a bouquet of flowers.
I felt like a stalker, gazing at this stranger with intense focus, trying to memorize her face, knowing I would probably never see her again.
I walked a little closer, and her head turned slightly, and she looked at me. I resisted the urge to gasp.
Her eyes were a warm amber, almost like honey. Her eyes looked soft, but held a bit of coldness in them at the same time, almost like they were trying to hide something. They pierced into my eyes, and she nodded slightly, and turned her gaze back to the horizon.
I walked, maintaining a careful distance between us, making it seem like we were just casually standing, not even paying attention to each other.
She lifted the bouquet to her face, and I heard her whisper something to the flowers before placing them on the sand, and the waves carefully whisked them away.
Her face was dotted with tears, and she closed her eyes.
My eyes opened, watching the lavenders, the sea taking them before they were a smudge on the vastness of blue. I turned my face to the quiet stranger, looking at him with focus.
He was beautiful, full lips, gray eyes, curly brown hair. He looked back at me, not breaking our silent stare.
As I watched, she walked closer and held out her hand. I shook it, surprised by the softness of her skin.
She pulled back, smiling slightly, and turned her back to me, walking away, leaving small footprints behind, her dress stirring as the wind twirled it in a dance.
I walked inside and glanced towards the dining room. Tiny pieces of glitter shone as the sun forced them out of their hiding place. I scowled and went upstairs to change.
I was in the bathroom, now in sweatpants and a baggy shirt. I stared at my reflection, my fingers fluttering to my cheek where specks of glitter were clinging on.
I tried to remove them, but it was of no use. I walked out, trying to contain a wall of emotion from breaking through my mental barrier.
I ran to the living room, flinging myself to the couch, curling into a ball, and trying to control the deep shudders that threatened to shake my body. I pressed my eyes closed, hands over my ears, and still saw glitter taunting me. I stood abruptly, rushing out of the quiet house and to the beach.
One day, the stillness would envelop me.
I stood, my mind a whirl.
Who was that girl? Why was she wearing a dress and placing flowers into the waves?
What was her purpose?
I ran, my usually blank mind now filled with thoughts.
I mentally ran over my theory, and as I walked on the beach, it made perfect sense.
Grief was like glitter. When you think it’s gone, it surprises you, always never leaving you. You’ll find tiny specks of it everywhere, and then the memories come back, too sudden for you to control it. It’s messy, and you can never clean it up.
“There’s no point in cleaning the whole thing up. No matter what, tiny bits of glitter will always be there… waiting… watching.”
My sister’s words were meant as a joke then, but I now knew the truth behind them.
She was smarter than I gave her credit for.
I spied the stranger, still exactly where I left him. I lifted my hand to wave at him, get his attention, but my focus was diverted by glitter on my hand.
I sank to the ground, pulling my knees to my chest, and the grief pushed past the border.
I heard sobbing. I looked around in alarm, and then saw the girl from earlier, her head in her hands, rocking back and forth.
I ran to her, sitting beside her, wrapping my arms around her shoulders, trying to soothe whatever upset her.
She leaned against me, looking up, her amber eyes now a dull red as tears leaked down her cheek, much more pronounced than before.
I brushed the tears from her cheek, and she managed to say, “Val,” before breaking down, burying her face in my shoulder.
I just sat with her, my arms around her, soothing her to the best of my ability.
Nobody should ever be this sad.
After some time, I got a hold of myself and leaned away from the stranger, who smiled warmly at me. I smiled slightly, my lower lip still trembling.
“I’m sorry,” I started to say, but he paused me. He looked at me, and I realized how deep his eyes were. I stared, trying to see any hint of disgust or mortification, but all I saw were kindness and pity.
I put my head on his shoulder, sighing softly. We both looked at the sun, who was setting slightly, the sky now a soft pink and red.
I turned to look at him, knowing now he was no longer a stranger.
He was the only person who was there for me when I finally lost myself, the only person who held patience and kindness.
He was already looking at me, and he smiled again, not saying a word.
Words would disrupt this moment, making it clumsy and awkward.
There was a strange...pureness about what was happening now. It didn’t feel weird or nerve-racking.
It just felt right.
I looked up at the creamy clouds, and what I saw almost made me go into hysterics again.
It was my sister’s face.
She looked at me, grinning widely. Her gorgeous face was ecstatic, just by the sight of me. I felt a fresh wave of tears pouring from my eyes.
The boy’s fingers gingerly brushed them away, and I felt a flicker of emotion in the pit of my stomach, something I haven’t felt for a while.
I turned to look at him, briefly, and I could see on his face that he understood the depth of the sincerity I felt for him, his face was a mirror of mine. I returned my eyes to my sister.
She smiled at me, and I smiled at her, knowing that, even though things were horrible right now, that someday, somehow, everything was going to be okay.
One step at a time.