Shades of Blue

Words by: Ella Vilozny ’24

Courtesy of Wirestock on Dreamstime

“They’re going to come look for us,” Naomi said quietly.

“I know.” Slumped down on the sand with her knees pulled to her chest, Kate looked small and tired.

Naomi sat down next to her, cross-legged with one knee overlapping Kate’s sneaker.

“I can’t believe you’re not gonna be here for graduation,” she said. They had both been saying things like that for months, as though repetition would take the sting out of it.

“I know,” Kate said anyway, rising to the occasion. “They better not leave me out of the yearbook. I was here, damn it!” 

She struck the ground for emphasis, and her fist sank a couple inches into the sand. 

The beach still held onto a trace of the day’s warmth, but a brisk wind cut through Naomi’s sweatshirt and the torn knee of her jeans. The clouds on the horizon were bruising purple and red.

“You want to make one more sweep for the bracelet, and then head back?” Naomi suggested.

“Yeah, we should,” Kate said, and pushed herself to her feet with sudden, determined energy. Naomi followed her back up the beach, scanning the sand for a hint of blue glass.

It was surprising, really, given all the hours they’d spent on this beach, that the bracelet had never been lost before. 

Naomi had found it at a neighbor’s rummage sale the summer before sixth grade. She’d set her heart on buying it herself, despite an intense shyness of adults. It was a string of blue beads with a silver charm dangling from the center; the neighbor called the figure a fox, but Naomi insisted it was a wolf, because Kate loved wolves. 

It had been too big for Kate’s wrist at the time, but she’d worn it anyway, every day of junior high. And to her first job interview at the movie theater, and through an awful week when she and Naomi didn’t speak to each other at all, and through the last year, when her parents began to alternate between silence and slamming doors.

“Don’t they have real wolves in Montana?” Naomi said. “Maybe you’ll see one. Have some, like, Call of the Wild adventure. You’ll have to send me pictures.”

“No, I’m holding them hostage,” Kate said cheerfully. “You have to come visit and see my awesome wolf companion for yourself.”

“Well, obviously – oh, hold on!” A glint of blue in the fading light caught Naomi’s eye, and she knelt to dig it out of the sand. 

It was a scrap of blue-green sea glass.

She looked up at Kate, who stared back with a strange twist to her mouth, and then began to laugh helplessly, hiding her face in her hands. Naomi stood up and brushed damp sand off her legs, the sea glass still clutched in one hand, and Kate’s laughter took on a hysterical edge.

Kate had always hated anyone to see her cry. When they were much younger, she had worn her hair long, and when she was upset she would shake it into a tangled curtain over her face and howl at anyone who tried to brush it away.

“Sorry,” Kate said after a moment. Her voice was thick, but her eyes were dry. “I just – you looked like I might break down or something, because of the stupid – it doesn’t matter.”

“We might still…” Naomi started doubtfully.

“No,” Kate said, “it’s gone. It’s okay. It’s gone.” 

She linked her arm through Naomi’s and set off again towards the cliffside staircase. 

“It’ll be like I left it here on purpose,” she added as they stepped together off the sand.

“To save my place.”


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