So we’re taking a small break from the character windows for everlasting because I’m on vacation. Or I was a few weeks ago. That and we finished the buying a movie ticket window for all the characters I’m doing windows for. Next week look forward to a new window. In the mean time, enjoy!
By Nojh Livic
The sound of waves was ever-present. Even when she didn’t hear them, she knew they were there. They were quiet roars in the distance, never quiet rhythmic yet indicate of a balance far larger than basic time and simple math. The breeze was a chaotic thing, in contrast. Occasionally providing a reprieve from the sun or add a chill during the night. She welcomed the feel of it on her skin regardless of the time, however. She had even grown fond of the smell that it brought. Salt that she remembered once burning her nose and spoiling her sense of taste permeated the air. She could not bring herself to like the salt but tolerance had grown over time.
A surprise to everybody, most of all herself, was her love of sand. She was well-known for her dislike of dirt and it’s even more horrible associate, mud. Entire trips had been delayed due to the changing of shoes thanks to a particularly rainy afternoon and an accidentally mis-step. Sand, however, was an entirely different beast, although she understood why everyone thought she wouldn’t set a shoe, much less bare feet upon it. It was small and clingy. Once it was on you it took copious amounts of water to clean away. And yet after the first day of watching them all play upon it, she had dared to climb the small hill and let her hand brush the dry fine grain of white sand from the safety of the vegetation. It had been soft and warmly smoothing. Yes a little bit clung to her fingers but that simply let her bring it up to examine with her eye. She could find no real fault with it.
So she experimented further, placing a shoe covered foot in the stand. It gave slightly as she leaned in but her balance was undisturbed. After a moment’s hesitation she drew her foot back, shook it slightly, then settled it back on the weeds. There in the sand was an inverted replica of the bottom of her shoe, speckled slightly with loose sand, it captured her attention and she had to kneel to examine it. Her shoe was slightly ribbed and so too was the impression. With a nail she lightly brushed at the ribs, toppling the miniature mountains until there was a single line bisecting her entire foot print. Smiling, she did so again, and again, until all possible lines of bilateral symmetry could were mapped.
Then came a breeze that lightly blew at the sand. Hardly strong enough to shift more than a few hundred grains it was still enough to smudge some of the lines she had drawn. Realizing the fragility of her creation, she took out her phone to take a snapshot of her work. When she had finished she stood up and looked towards the water.
Everybody was staring at her. They had stopped playing in the waves and looked up from their books to stare at her. Only a single kite doggedly remained aloof from the apparent spectacle she was putting on for everyone, although its ownner had stopped running.
She had run back into the house.
A few of them asked about it when they got back but she remained quiet to their questions and eventually the topic was lost upon the waves of conversation they normally participated in. She, instead, thought about the sand and her shoe. In her appointed sleeping area, she summoned up the image she had taken of her footprint and stared at it long into the night.
The next morning only a few of the others had awoken. She waited until they left the house for a morning walk before she slipped out of the house as well. Returning to her earlier spot she found her footprint still imprinted upon the sand although far more the worse for wear. Someone else had stepped upon a part of it, impressing their own bare foot into the heel of her shoe print. Strangely the foot print proved far more interesting than her shoe print. Although the sand did not as much detail as ink or a topological laser scanner might have, it still showed the contours of the foot, and where the individual toes had sunk into the sand. The sand’s grasp of the human foot was in its own way, incredibly unique compared to other methods of foot detection simply because of its imprecise nature. She could tell that this foot was distorted slightly because the person had walked forward, rather than pressed their foot downward into the sand.
Again a picture was taken but this time she used her hand to slowly wipe away both prints. She was careful and meticulous, until the sand was smooth but not uneven. She guessed at the curves that the sound might have normally taken if only acted upon by the wind but she felt confidant in her approximation.
Then she planted both feet into sand. There was a gasp from behind her. One of the others had awoken and was standing on the porch, watching her from above, still in her night-gown. She waited if the woman would move or perhaps say something. When nothing more happened, she turned her attention back to the sand.
She stood for a solid minute. Before she stepped away, she wiggled the toes in her right foot, then carefully stepped back onto the vegetation. She did not shake her feet before doing so. Two very different foot prints both for their inverted symmetry of being both left and right foot, but also because of her toe wiggling, how she had stepped on with her left foot first and stepped off with her right. She spent an hour examining these foot prints before the others called her in to eat. She spent two hours after that examining the effects of the breeze upon them in her absence. The others had to forge another trail around her to get to the water.
On the second night it rained. On the third morning she found that her sand had changed on her. Much like dirt the sand had soaked up the water but unlike dirt it hadn’t liquefied. Her footprints were almost gone save for faint impressions but those impressions were no longer being marred by the morning breeze. She experimented with her hands, first poking at, then picking up the sand. She found that it had gained a poor plasticity, remaining clumped in larger numbers than when dry. It was harder to make impressions but impressions stayed longer. She settled in her spot and waited. Over the span of the third day she watched the heat of the sun slowly dehydrate the sand and it’s eventual return to its more granular state. Images had been taken during the entire process, of course.
Once or twice during her observation the others had tried to rouse her. She had ignored them of course but their insistence had dwindled when she had eaten the food they had brought her. With the sun finally setting she retired to the house. That evening there were more questions. One of the others even grew stern and loud. When he got that way, she often had to speak to try to placate him. It didn’t always work. This time, strangely enough it did. There was crying involved by more than one of them.
Sand apparently had an effect upon them as much as her. It was fascinating.
It took a few days before she was willing to venture past the small set of hills, called dunes by the others, that formed a natural barrier between the grass and the flatter section of the beach. Not because of any particular fear of the sand but because of all the observation. The dunes themselves had a specialized kind of vegetation that rooted itself into the sand in a tentacle like fashion. She had nearly excavated an entire dune to determine how abundant the network was until one of the others distracted her with the most amazing construction.
They were called sand castles and they were of pure beauty. Geometry infused in the chaotic nature of the sand it was like the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter or mustard and miracle whip. It took everything she had in her not to immediately attempt her own designs but instead she tried showing respect to the others, as she was taught. She stood and waited as the smaller others danced around her happily shrieking. She had to speak to them to get them to perform another sand castle and even then they were horribly inefficient at it. Buckets and shovels gathered the sand. Buckets were sometimes also used to mold the sand, although they were also specialized containers for this.
One of the larger of the little ones had threatened to destroy the newest sand castle, claiming to be something called a sea monster and carrying a bucket of water. She had resolved the issue but screaming. Screaming always set the others on guard. Afterwords the little ones destroyed it themselves, much to her surprise. The others came to her when the littlest ones did this but she ignored them. She had taken images during the entire process. It required examination.
The next day she snuck out before the first of them were awake. The sun wasn’t even risen by the sky was just light enough to see by. She began working. Over the course of the night she had designed a series of tools that would work better than plastic hand shovels and buckets. She used her first hour to construct these using discarded materials found on the beach as well as the surplus of plastic toys left out on the sand. By the time the others were awake, she had begun construction of her castle.
They all came to see it. The little ones asked to help but the bigger ones kept them away. They were soon bored and playing in the water. As it became apparent that her castle was not to be finished in a short span, the others began rotations. She had decided to make them useful by giving them her phone to take pictures. She was pleased to see other image recording devices were being used.
She took a small break during the hotter hours of the day. She sat in the sand under an umbrella the others had erected. She ate and drank and performed necessary biological functions at the house as instructed. After the heat had passed she returned to work.
She finished the castle as the sun was settling into the palm trees. It was three-quarters her height, symmetrical in some places, and asymmetrical in others. It had cubes, spheres, pyramids, and more than a few irregular objects. Wet sand formed the base of the structure but she had imported dryer sand from the dunes to fill in the certain sections, particularly courtyards and roofs. Her castle had an outer wall of course but was set back far enough that she could stand within its perimeter to work upon the castle proper, which was raised upon a miniature rock-face that had stairs leading up to the portcullis. There were ramparts and windows. She had even tasked the little ones with fetched water to fill the moat that was dug around the wall. It was a glorious reproduction. A perfect melding of math and nature. Chaos given form. Even the breeze and the salt had gifted her creation with a unique signature that she could not model.
The others showered her with affection. There was more crying but very little shouting. Many pictured were taken and people danced around her creation. That evening they erected a bonfire on the beach and everyone was allowed to stay out on the beach. Others whom she did not live with visited her structure and applied complimented to both it and her, which she found compelling. She required coaching on the proper etiquette but after several tries, those types of others did not leave in a huff after she spoke to them.
Finally it was time. She gathered up the little ones, including the bigger little one, and explained to them that the castle’s life cycle. There was much giggling. She gave them their tasks while she retreated to the larger others and took up her camera. So it was that the monsters of the sea, and one mermaid, and one water-unicorn, breached the defenses of her sand castle with water, sand, and force, in a spectacle that delighted her. She had taken video of the entire event.
The older others seemed upset but did not stop the event. She had been worried they might. They asked her why but she ignored them until the castle had been reduced to piles of sand. Only then did she have the attention. She explained, although she was not sure they understood.
“Sand castles are but sand given form. It is not the nature of sand to stay as it is forever. They are not the waves, ever flowing, or the breeze, even changing, but somewhere in between.”