Sand shifted under Simeon’s feet, under the stairs, the buildings, the entire town.
James waited, eyes on the horizon like a onyx sculpture of a man as he gazed across the misty beach towards the booming waves.
The waves summoned James’ magic away from Simeon while Simeon’s magic swirled him away into the echoes of the past.
They drew together, shifting with the waves, the sand, the misty rain.
Drifting Leaves, Misty Skies
By Meyari McFarland
Simeon rubbed one shoe against the grass, carefully scrubbing sand off of it. The surf boomed off to his right, shushing as the waves withdrew only to crash again. His toes were cold. Wet. Sandy. There really wasn’t much point to cleaning the sand off his shoes when his feet were covered in sand, too. Still Simeon carefully brushed them off, making sure every speck of gray fell off the white plastic sole, the neon green upper.
Off to his left James waited, eyes on the horizon. He could have just arrived at the beach. Face calm, shoulders relaxed. He’d thrust his hands into his pockets, all but the thumbs that stuck out, hooked through a belt loop. James’ mop of curly hair drooped over his forehead to shield his eyes, dark against the gray concrete retaining wall that kept the cliff from slumping down onto the beach. His skin looked darker than normal down here, almost black instead of warm reddish brown.
Cedric had sniffed the first time he saw James, had curled a lip and turned away to look side-long at Simeon as if he suspected that Simeon had lost his mind. Of course, Cedric always did that. He’d sneered at Simeon’s first grade painting of the sky, at the news that he was going to be in band in junior high. When Simeon’s test results came back positive, Cedric’s sneer had curled so high that Simeon had punched him in the face.
Just because Cedric had no gifts, no magic, didn’t mean he had the right to put Simeon down.
He still did. Every time they spoke, emailed, texted, there would always be some snide comment about Simeon that was designed to make him feel like crap.
“He’s not here,” James murmured. His voice blended into the crash and suck of the waves just as James always blended into his environment, quiet, still, calm.
“I know,” Simeon said. “Except for how he is.”
James turned his head, electric green eyes softening to deep moss green when he saw Simeon’s face. He chuckled and came over to brush a hand over Simeon’s cheek. The sand dropped from Simeon’s feet, fell from his shoes. Simeon ducked his head and smiled, looked up through his lashes and laughed under his breath that his heart could beat so fast just from James smiling at him that way.
Simeon blushed as James took his hand, led him up the stairs towards the street above. Sand should have stuck to his feet. The stairs, damp with misty rain, dotted with soggy blackberry and maple leaves that had fallen into the stair well, were coated with sand. Many of the steps domed in the center from the amount of sand people had tracked up on the bottoms of their shoes.
No sand stuck. When they got to the top, Simeon panting a little, James with his eyes crinkled in a quiet smile that didn’t touch his lips, Simeon put on his shoes without any worries about sand between his toes. It was still odd. A little frightening. Exhilarating.
“Do you think I’ll learn how to do that?” Simeon asked as they slowly strolled up the street as it wound to the left and then climbed sharply towards the main road above.
“The sand?” James asked. He shrugged. “Maybe. I doubt it. It’s not your gift, really.”
His eyes were distant, looking ahead, not at the road, per se, but the future that only James could see. The future? A future, maybe. James had told Simeon that the future shifted, drifting like leaves in the wind, subject to the choices they made moment to moment.
How odd it must be to see a world so ephemeral. The world that Simeon saw was concrete. Ivy leaves gone dark with winter dormancy, moss burgeoning towards the weak watery sunlight. The power pole on the side of the road was just a pole, tar pressed deep into its cellular structure to protect it against the inevitable watery rot that already ate away at its base under the earth. Beneath the concrete and asphalt, gravel and sand.
So much sand. The entire hillside was based on sand. Simeon’s steps slowed as he traced the layers of sand, bits of shell and driftwood from eons ago pressing tighter and tighter as the weight on top of them bore down. Deeper, down under the surface, below sea level, hundreds of feet below there was rock, true rock, but that was all lava. Old lava, cold and still, poured out of volcanoes that had lived millions of years ago.
James’ hand touched Simeon’s cheek.
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