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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)

TITLE: The Beach Path
By Kyle Chezum


Dusk had found its way into the sky by the time Reiki came upon the cliff trail. She stopped to catch her breath, and brushed sweat and sand dust away from her eyes. The evening was hot. A crooked bone of moon had risen above the trees, bringing with it a dry wind that echoed over the sandstone and snake holes at the top of the bluff. It was during that silent and deserted hour, when all the rest of the world had gone indoors, that Reiki felt safest there. She would venture out as often as she could without her dad knowing. He hated for her to leave the house.

She wandered to the edge of the bluff, where weeds and stone gave way in an empty plummet to the tidal wasteland far below. It was a dead beach, a forlorn graveyard of sand and seaweed that stretched into fog and shadows at the far side of the bay. Waves rushed and thundered in the distance, farther out where the tide had retreated. The bluff stood perpendicular to the beach and reached deep water at its uttermost point. Reiki never went there. Ever since Jacob had fallen from the rocky crags at the tip, she had avoided it. She preferred to stay back with the stagnant sand below her. That wasn’t enough for her dad, however. He wanted her off the cliffs entirely.

She had tried to tell him that her brother’s death had been an accident, something beyond her control. They had been out there as a family that day, the four of them. It was Jacob’s second birthday. Reiki had been keeping an eye on him while her parents stopped to look at some wildflowers next to the path. Jacob started running, laughing, heading toward the cliff that jutted out over the water. Reiki’s heart leapt into her throat and she ran after him, calling for him to stop. He looked over his shoulder once, his eyes wide with delight, seeming to think it was all a game. Still running, not seeing, not caring, he stumbled over the edge and down to the rocks and water and shadows.

Somewhere in her mind, Reiki could still hear herself screaming.

She began to walk. Bits of stone crunched and shifted under her feet, clicking like old bones. It was the rhythm of the trail, a kind of bitter music, and she let it carry her where it wanted, not caring.

Suddenly a new sound came to her, a gentle melody, floating on the wind from somewhere ahead. She stopped, puzzled. No one went out there at night but her. She looked around, realizing with a start that she had unknowingly come almost to the extremity of the bluff. Cautiously she strode forward over a rise in the trail. A solitary human figure sat near the far ledge, quietly picking a guitar and singing. He faced the water, his back turned to the dead beach. Beyond his silhouette, the last light of the setting sun glowed across waves that moved and lulled almost in time with the music.

He must have heard her coming, because he turned toward her and grinned. “Hey there.”

She smiled back at him, though she wondered who he was and why she had never seen him before. He was young and attractive, dressed in loose jeans and a gray sweatshirt. Had he been there often and she had simply not known it?

He seemed to sense what she was thinking. “I like to come out here to worship. It’s such an awesome place.” He strummed a chord on the guitar, then muted it with the palm of his hand. “Do you come out here a lot?”

She looked over her shoulder, back toward the trail and the dunes. “Yeah.” She hesitated. “But this is the path where my brother died. Dad wants to keep me off it.” She gazed out toward the glistening water, feeling the peace and life of the place. “I think he’s forgotten where it leads.”

The boy shrugged. “That beach back there is so dark and empty. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there’s a beautiful ocean out here.”

Reiki nodded. “Sometimes.”

“But it’s here. Even when you can’t see it.”

Reiki found herself agreeing. Suddenly she realized that wandering the bluffs was a waste of time. Pointless. The end of the trail was a much better place.

And she knew her dad would join her there, once she had told him.

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This article has been read 962 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W07/11/05
Great start for a much longer piece. The late introduction of the second character adds a dimension to the story that may need explaining in more detail. Good job. Thanks for posting.
Shari Armstrong 07/11/05
A well told story -thanks for sharing :)
Suzanne R07/12/05
Very touching. Well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/13/05
Heartbreaking and healing. Good job!
Val Clark07/14/05
You establish a sense of place really well and draw me into the lives of characters about whom I want to know more. Well done.
darlene hight07/14/05
I love the subtle, hopeful message and it was a good build.I think the problem of introducing the other character too late in the story could be solved easily by a thought I wonder if anyone else ever comes here? I thought that it was great.
Debbie OConnor07/14/05
Wow! This is powerful. Great message. I'm still wiping the tears away. Thanks.
Nina Phillips07/14/05
Very nicely written. I liked the man who appeared at the end. Right fitting end to the story. God bless, littlelight
Pat Guy 07/14/05
"But it's here. Even when you can't see it." Very Well done! Most enjoyable.
Beth Muehlhausen07/14/05
Powerful imagery and emotion. Sweeps you up and away with mounting tension.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/15/05
I've said it before: you have this amazing way of drawing the reader in from the very first sentence, immersing him in the story with excellent imagergy and description. Wonderful underlying message. I think Deb was right - you've struck the perfect balance this week. Well done!
Blessings, Lynda
Maxx .07/15/05
Ya done good, this has a nice ring of hope to it. Thought the imagry of Christ was a perfect backdrop!
Brandi Roberts07/17/05
As with all the previous work you've done, I loved this. A++!