tagFirst TimeSand and Sea and Sky

Sand and Sea and Sky


When the sun disappears into the sea, setting the sky on fire, I rest my tired body in the sand. My eyes close immediately, blind to the miracles nature presents, and I fall asleep under the cool evening breeze.

In the early hours of the morning, when only a distant shimmer behind the mountains indicates that the darkness of night isn't eternal, the cold and the need to urinate wake me up. No animal would ever do its business where it sleeps they say, and although I am not an animal, I stumble a few steps onward before I squat into the sand and let go a stream that could fill another ocean. I am not careful, and my urine runs down my legs, hot and burning into the scars and scratches the scrubs and bushes have given me on my last expedition into the mountains.

I crawl back to my resting place, where I hope to find a remainder of my own body warmth in the sand, and close my eyes again. The cold makes me shiver and keeps me awake. My eyes open once more and for a while I watch the stars getting paler as the vast night sky slowly lightens up. Finally, I decide to get up and continue my journey.

Walking warms me up, and the sun helps as it rises over the mountains. For a while, I don't have to think of anything but setting one foot in front of the other. When the sun has almost risen to the highest point of its daily journey, pangs of hunger become impossible to ignore, and I leave the seaside and make my way up the mountains in hope of finding a stream of fresh water and some berries or roots. If I am very lucky, I come across a bird's nest with eggs. I crack the delicate shells with my teeth and cool, slimy liquid fills my mouth and runs down my throat before I spit out the remains of the egg's protection. Sometimes I can even catch a small animal whose neck I twist so it breaks with a sickening sound, and whose meat I eat raw, smearing my face with blood, because I have long forgotten how to make fire.

When I have eaten enough, I return to the sea and walk some more under the sun, whose heat becomes soon unbearable. Drops of sweat start tickling my face and under my arms. Eventually I take off the dirty rags I wear over my shoulders and chest, and place them under a stone, so the wind can't carry them away. Then I step into the sea, deeper and deeper, until the waves spray my face with cool water, and I have to struggle to remain on my feet. The bath gives me no joy, but it helps me maintain the illusion that I am clean(s)ing myself from I-don't-know-what sins.

When I step out of the water, a vague sensation of being alive still, of being in the course of surviving yet another day washes over me, and I don't know whether to be happy or sad. Survival is the instinct of any living being and it is what makes me keep walking and eating and bathing and trying not to think.

I search for my clothes and smooth them out carefully before I place them over myself. They are my only, my beloved possessions. They are old and torn and hardly cover anything anymore. They can't protect me from heat or cold and couldn't protect me from stares if there was anyone to stare, but I wouldn't want to lose them for anything in the world. They are the only things that remind me that I am, in a way, still human.

Between the shrubs and small trees that separate the seaside from the mountains, I search for a shady spot where I can sleep for a few hours. Despite my bath, I attract flies. I have long given up chasing them away. They cover me like dark rain while I drift away into the feverish dreams that always accompany my afternoon naps.

When I wake up, it has cooled down and my dreams have filled me with horror and the need to walk on, to escape, to reach somewhere safe. I walk until I am too tired to go even one step further. At that precise moment, the sun disappears into the sea, and I sink down into the sand. The seconds before I fall asleep, I see the fire of the setting sun through my closed eyelids - red and burning. I have to fall asleep quickly so I won't remember. The memories are hazy and confused these days, but they taste of smoke and fear... they make the waves burst against the shore with screams... they make the sea gulls cry like lost children.


That's all we were -- lost children, though we felt grown up and all-knowing. I was an adult in the eyes of the world, and I believed myself wise, above everything.

"Don't go there at that one night of the year," those who were older than us had always said. "Strange things happen at that beach every year that night."

When they said that, how could we not have gone?


His name was Michael. He was 20 years old, dark and tall, every girl's dream, and he was mine. We knew each other two or three years already, we spoke of marriage. To think, that I once thought of things like marriage!

We had decided to wait, as they say, but eventually we changed our minds. Our need to be as close to each other as possible was overwhelming. If we were going to do it anyway one day, why not now? We thought we knew that we were going to spend all our life with each other. And if we were going to do it, why not turn that so-called night of horror forever into a night of love for us?


When everyone went out to celebrate, we went to that secluded stretch of beach, where pine trees reached almost into the sea, where we knew we would be alone because no one dared to go there during that night, thanks to local legends. When everyone dressed up as monsters or princesses, we took off our clothes altogether.

I told my parents I was going to a Halloween party. I was nineteen, old enough to do what I want, of course, but my parents were conservative enough to expect their daughter not to have any sex before she is married, and I wanted to avoid questions. Michael picked me up; I waited for him in the pretty dress of a flamenco dancer.

Children in all kinds of costumes ran around us as we approached his car. The whole town seemed to me on their way to celebrate, the air was filled with happiness. And I felt most happy of all. We left the lights of the town behind us, no one was thinking of going to the seaside. Michael parked the car near the beach, and we walked toward our spot of choice. The air was clear and beautiful, the pine trees rustled mysteriously. My heart seemed to beat twice as fast as normal. The moment had come.

It wasn't the cold that made me tremble as we lay down under a tree on the blanket Michael had brought. My mouth searched his; my fingers longed to feel his skin. We tore clothing off each other breathlessly. We couldn't wait; we wanted it to happen now.

And then we sat up -- let go of each other and stared each at the other's naked body we had seen so many times before, unsure of how to continue.

"You are sure you...?" he asked in a whisper.

Unable to speak, I nodded.

He reached out to me to touch me tenderly, and his fingers felt like fire on my face.

Slowly, as if of its own accord, my hand went up to his face too. His skin felt soft and young. Our faces drew closer to each other. His breath felt warm on my face, he smelt of the sun and wind. When our lips touched again, when our tongues started their dance, it was slow yet with a passion I had never thought myself capable of feeling.

His hand wandered to my hair. The other one reached around my back so he could pull my body closer to his, warm me with his skin, let me feel his heartbeat against my chest. Our kiss never broke, as we lay back on the blanket. I closed my eyes; so I would only feel... feel his touch on my skin and the taste of his lips, feel the weight of his body on mine and the slight taste of salt on his skin. And feel his erection pressed against me, which suddenly scared me a little with its size and hardness -- and which still I wanted to feel inside me more than ever.

His hands seemed to want to touch every last bit of me, they were rough, yet their touch was soft. I felt my body react to the contact with them, felt my nipples grow hard. And his own skin felt smooth under my fingers, as I ran them over every part of him I could reach.

He propped himself up on his arms, I felt his member at my entrance, felt my own wetness. Bit by bit, he entered me.

I wrapped my legs around his body and tried to pull him into me. I was impatient. I wanted to feel all of him. Now.

With one thrust he was deep in me, and for a second, a sharp pain caused me to gasp. He paused... I felt him filling me, and then, he started moving again. I had forgotten about the initial pain. He was moving slowly at first, then faster, faster. . The waves took our rhythm; the wind accompanied us in the trees. I could hear the very heartbeat of the earth moving with us.

All became one: Our naked bodies, pale in the moonlight, the beach we were lying on, the wind that cooled the sweat off our skin, the waves that broke faster and faster against the shore. We became sea and sand and sky.

The waves were inside me, I was the sea, they grew and grew, and when finally they hit the shore and broke into white foam and fountains of water and moans of pleasure, I wasn't sure what was me and what was him, or where or who or what we were.

And only then, as Michael's movements grew slower and stopped, as he rested the weight of his body on me again, only then did I open my eyes again and, for the first time, saw the night sky above me, covered in a multitude of diamond stars.

I shivered; it had grown cold. Michael wrapped his arms around me.

"Let's go home," he whispered into my ear.

I shook my head.

"I want to sleep here, it is so beautiful."

He thought for a moment.

"Good," he said then. "But put your dress back on, or you will catch a cold. I will try to find some dry wood and make a campfire, so we don't freeze."


When I woke up, everything was hot and smelled of smoke. My eyes hurt, I could barely see. Michael was shaking me, urging me to get up.

"The fire..." he started, then he coughed. "The blanket..." he started again.

I rolled to the side, fought to get onto my feet and stumbled to the side as he grabbed the blanket we had been sleeping on and began beating the flames that seemed to grow with every moment. They became a sea of heat and brightness that reached out to every one of the pine trees. Roaring waves surrounded Michael, while I stood at a small distance, watching his fruitless attempts to beat out the flames with the help of the blanket: He only seemed to help them grow.

And then I saw them: in the trees, in the flames. Arms, hands, mouths, teeth. Reaching out for Michael, and reaching out for me. Everything around us came to life, but their life was filled with a wish to kill, to destroy us. The fire had eyes and a mouth from which it roared an unimaginable scream into the night. It was full of beings -- I don't know whether they were people, their outlines inside the flames looked like them, and they wanted us to join them. Something in me knew that those were the people we had been told about. The ones that had disappeared from this very beach, some hundreds of years ago and others only a few decades back, but always on the same night of the year, always on Halloween. They had come back, we had called them with our presence, and now we were doomed to join them too. One look into their empty faces told me, that we could never rejoin human society.

I stood at the same place as before, under a big tree that had not yet caught fire. I was still safe, but unable to move even one step. I could just watch. I saw the blanket catch fire, I saw it escaping Michael's grasp, turning around on him, trying to hug him and pull him along into this sea of death. Then I saw a tree above me lighting up with red flowers of fire that were hissing at me, jumping towards me in the hope that they could decorate my hair with a wreath of orange blossoms. They wanted to dress me with a gown of bright embers and turn my red and white dress into black ashes.

At that moment, the numbness that had tied my body to the same spot weakened, and I turned around and started running. I ran to the sea. I hoped the water would protect me from the fire. I ran along the beach, to get away from where I was, to never face anyone who could ask me to retell what had happened, hoping that I would find someplace safe. Far away, I could see the sky turn lighter -- a first indication of the upcoming day, and I felt a need to run... run... get away, never stop running.

Far behind me, I heard Michael's screams. The last thing he screamed before he died was my name, and the echo of that scream has never left me since.


After a few hours, my running slowed down. I became hungry and thirsty, and learned to search for water and food in the mountains. I became dirty and tired, and learned to bathe in the sea and sleep on the beach.

Each time I woke up, I felt the urge to walk on, to get away yet further. The first days were hard. I was much more human then, the sea and sand around me didn't accept me yet. The sun spit fire at me. It made my skin burn hot and red, and come off in long white stripes. The sand had teeth that bit my feet with each step. It made them bleed, and the waves hungrily swallowed my blood. Everything was my enemy -- the streams in the mountains, the berries and roots that hid from me, and there were days when I couldn't satisfy my hunger at all.

Worse than the days were the nights. I often watched the sun set before I closed my eyes, and I watched it with apprehension and fear. I saw the sun being swallowed by the sea, bit by bit, a trembling globe of gold that got sucked into the cold waters. Each evening I wanted to run, swim, hold on to it. I was scared it might not be able to come back next morning. I repeatedly saw the last tiny corner of the sun send one last bright shimmer across the earth, like a scream for help, and then it was gone and darkness surrounded me.

Dreams of fire and smoke and someone screaming my name woke me up every night and the heat I felt during my sleep made me tremble yet more in the cold of the early morning hours.

Sometimes, in the beginning, I saw people, far away sitting at the beach, or saw little towns in the mountains. I hid in the bushes to sneak by unnoticed. Afterwards, I wished I had gone to them, for just a night in a real bed, for a shower, for some bread. With time though, I forgot about that.

I am the one that walks, that is what I do. I have to walk and walk, because that is the only way to not hear the screams, not smell the flames, and not think. Sometimes, when I wake up, I wonder if I should just stay right where I am, not walk, not bathe, and not eat. But then I get up and walk on, as I have been doing every day.

The time when I won't get up will come, but it is not here yet. The day will come when my body will sink into the sand, as it does every night, just when the sun disappears into the sea -- but in the night, no cold will wake me. When the light travels back up into the sky from the other side of the mountains, my body will still lie where I put it to rest in the evening, and finally, I won't have to run. I won't be scared anymore. I will just lie there and rest, as my bones become sand, and sea, and sky.

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