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Winner of Swinburne’s Sudden Writing Competition: Sea Glass


min read

I collect the things I know about you like shards of sea glass.

Sudden, unexpected, smoothed through years of salt and sand.

You can’t search for sea glass; it finds you. The only thing you can do is go for a beach walk with half an eye out, hoping. You have to listen to the wind, and prepare yourself for disappointment.

I get disappointed easily. I sneak glances at you from the side, pretending it was an accident. I like the way you smile at people. Your eyebrows furrow when you talk to me.

When I find a slice of sea glass half buried and glinting in the sun, I carefully extract it, brush off the sand and tuck it into my pocket.

My secret find becomes a highlight of the week. I carry it around in my pocket the whole trip home, thinking about it.

When I’m alone I take out the precious fragment and examine it from every angle, hold it under the sun, watch the light refract off the surface.

And when I do, it looks different: a slight bubble or scratch on the surface, marring marbled emerald and sapphire.

Different, but better, almost, than I remembered it looking when I found it on the beach.

I collect pieces of you like sea glass— waiting for the right conversation, leaning down and picking up and arranging neatly in a box.

I sometimes elaborately weave sea glass through wire and make necklaces to wear around my neck, wind chimes to hang around my house, and hearing the ocean clinking brings me comfort.

I collect things you’ve told me like shards of sea glass.

Every time I see you I want to know more, and now it’s an overflowing pocket in my brain that spills into other areas too, tumbling out and fracturing. It casts light on everything it touches. It envelopes my world in a warm glow.

My sea glass is carefully arranged in a wooden box. From time to time I take the weathered pebbles out and dust them off, hold them under the light.

I collect pieces of you like shards of sea glass. Wishing they belonged to me rather than to the beach, living amongst the sand and salt.