Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ty's Dream Girl (The Beginning)

Twelve-year-old Ty Austin lay face-down on the dock, head resting on an inflatable life ring, a barely perceptible breeze rolling over him from the north.

For the last half hour, he’d watched a sailboat--the only movement in sight--gliding down the opposite shore.

But now, he grew aware of a new movement. On the beach at the next door cottages, the new girl--he’d heard her mom call her Kit--pulled up a folding lounge chair and lay out in her bikini. Ty watched her with his one open eye, hoping that she wouldn’t sense his attention.

She was thin and pale, and the vision of her first stepping out on the beach a few days before had echoed in Ty’s head ever since.

Now that he was aware of her presence, he quickly grew self-conscious, feeling, without really knowing it, that he had to prove himself worthy of existing in the same space as Kit.

With a move he hoped looked smooth and nonchalant, he stood and stretched, stealing a glance at the girl. For a moment, she appeared unaware of him. He tried to will her to look his way, tried, through some undiscovered telepathy, to convince her he was worth noticing. He had nearly given up when she did, finally, turn toward him. With a nervous flourish, he executed a jackknife dive off the end of the dock.

His heart raced as he pulled hard under water, driving himself to the bottom before pushing off with his feet. He felt at once proud and stupid. Would Kit be impressed? Or would she think him a showy fool?

When he broke the surface again, he sucked a deep breath and wiped the water from his eyes. Dog-paddling now, he turned slowly around to spy her beach. For a moment, he was disoriented, facing an empty stretch of sand. He looked left and right to orient himself, but it only took one steady glance--noting the stand of three birch and the granite outcropping--to realize that he was, in fact, facing the right beach.

A nervous confusion blossomed in him. He took several tentative strokes toward shore to get a better view before an odd pattern resolved itself in the sand. In an instant, confusion turned to realization. The jagged lines from mid-beach down to the water were a signature, the final words of a lounge chair being dragged to nowhere.

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