A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY NINA FRIEDBERG
The deep blue waves curl forward, pushing to their peak. They come barreling downward, exploding at the rocky bottom of the sand. I watch as the waves sweep the sandy floor, edging closer until they touch my toes and ever so slowly retreat into the unknown. I hug my knees up to my chin and breathe in the salty air. Everything feels slow and peaceful. The beach can do that to you. I press my forehead down, letting my brown curls fall around me, and the last rays of sun warm my back. A large wave crashes down, running over my chipped teal nails and digging my hands into the sand. The water feels fresh and inviting.
I uncurl my limbs and walk forward. Breathing deeply, I raise my arms over my head and lock my fingers together. My feet push off the sand and I dive forward. A shock of cold jolts through my body, cooling my sun-baked skin. I point my feet and kick up until I feel the soft winds brush my face. I bob up and down, letting the comforting waves guide me. The water lulls me into a state of silence. There are no more voices yelling from the shore or seagulls squawking overhead. There is only me and the ocean, floating together.
After a while, my hands touch the rocky bottom. I must be floating toward the shore. The water pulls in, rocking me onto my back. I open my eyes up to the sky, when a large wave builds overhead. I blink, waiting for the wave to crash on top of me and splash my smiling face. Instead, the water lurches around my body, sucking me down to the ocean floor. My spine smacks against the rocks and I scream, feeling the salty liquid burn my throat. My security is stripped away as I am dragged back into the waves, away from all things safe and warm.
I thrash beneath the surface, fighting against the surging force of water. I throw my hand up, no longer preparing for a calming dive, but in an act of panic. When I feel my nails poke through the top, I shake them violently, hoping that the teal paint calls attention.
Another wave comes and plunges me back down. I hug my knees up to my chin and cover my head, waiting to hit the seabed. My leg scrapes against the rocks, searing through my burnt skin. The pain overcomes my body. I clasp my hand to my mouth and quiver, releasing all the fight I have left.
I let myself float silently in the water. The lack of sound is nauseating, but I don’t fight it. I sink into the cold salty ocean.
A grasp on my arm wakes me. I feel fingers curl tightly around my wrist and my heart begins to beat rapidly. A body wraps firmly against mine, holding my lifeless limbs securely. We break through the surface and I gasp in the sweet air. The man carries me outward, hugging me closer as I start to shake.
When we get to the shore, he lays me on my back. I claw my fingers into the sand, breathing heavily as I regain composure. “Are you okay?” he asks. I raise my head forward out to the waves. I no longer see their calming brush against the sand or their still security. They are murky, stained with blood and tears. My blood and tears. How would I ever be okay?
Nina Friedberg is fourteen years old and lives in New York City. Her writing is an outlet for her observations of the world and helps explore her thoughts and fears.