“You’re acting weird,” I said, using my long cane to guide me down the boardwalk.
The coast was quiet, the smell of sea salt and sand washing over me.
“Am not,” Maggie said, touching my arm to let me know she was beside me. “I just wanted to swim.”
“I barely had time to leave Jeff and Sara a note before you dragged me out of the house.”
“You were wasting daylight,” she said, exasperated. “Just stop complaining, it’ll be fun.”
I shook my head, allowing her to take my hand. “I’m not swimming.”
“I’ll stay with you the whole time,” she said, giving my hand a squeeze. “What else are little sisters for?”
“I don’t care,” I said, “I’m not getting in the water.”
Maggie went quiet for a moment as she steered me off the boardwalk. The unevenness of the sand forced me to lean on her for support.
“You need to have some fun,” she said eventually.
I sighed, grimacing as we stumbled through the sand. “I have fun. I’m getting pretty good at wrestling. I’m working my way up the team.”
“And are they your friends?” She asked, her usual sassy demeanor coming through.
I shrugged, though the action may have been lost on her.
I went silent as she led me across what seemed to be a never-ending stretch of sand.
“Are we gonna stop anytime soon?”
“It’s a bit further,” she said, her breath short, likely exhausted from supporting me. “On the other side of these rock formations.”
“Why do we have to go so far? I can hear the Ocean right next to us.”
“It’s my favorite spot,” she said defensively. “My real parents used to take me here when I was a kid.”
I scoffed. “You’re still a kid.”
Maggie didn’t reply, guiding me closer to the water where the sand was easier to navigate.
I immediately worried that I hurt her feelings, something frustratingly hard to determine when I couldn’t see.
“My mom and I had a place like that,” I said after a moment. “We had a lake we would visit pretty often. She would feed the ducks while we talked… I’d like to go back there at some point.”
“I’m sure our foster parents would bring you there if you asked,” Maggie said, a hint of bitterness in her voice. “They adore you.”
I frowned, seized by guilt. “Jeff and Sara don’t love me any more than you.”
It was Maggie’s turn to scoff. “They don’t pay attention to me. If they’re not ignoring me, they’re yelling at me, there’s no in-between.”
“Maybe if you’d stop trying to run away, they’d have less reason to yell,” I said, squeezing her hand in an attempt to seem less harsh.
“So they could go right back to ignoring,” she said matter-of-factly, not quite managing to disguise her pain.
I didn’t reply, giving up for the moment. There was nothing I could do when she got like this; determined to feel sorry for herself. Her life wasn’t perfect, but…
“I care about you,” I said, smiling in her direction.
She squeezed my hand. “I know, which is why you get the privilege of joining me at my favorite spot. Speaking of which… we’ve arrived.”
I sighed in relief. “Describe it to me,” I said, letting go of her hand.
“The sand is super clean here, the water too, which is kind of a teal color. This section is secluded, surrounded by rocks, which is why it was our favorite.”
I nodded, picturing it in my head. I’d only been to the beach a handful of times before the incident, but I remembered how beautiful it was.
“Still not going to swim?” She asked, grabbing my elbow to pull me forward.
“No, I’ll watch… so to speak.”
“At least take off your shoes,” she said, forcing me to sit in the sand. “I mean, honestly. Who wears tennis shoes to the beach?”
“People forced there against their will,” I answered, dropping my cane as I pulled off my socks and shoes. “You know you’re gonna have to help me put these back on, right?”
“We’ll see,” Maggie said playfully as she pulled me to my feet, handing me back my cane. “But for now, you’re not gonna ruin my fun.”
Suddenly, I heard splashes in front of me, the sound of feet pattering through the shallow water.
“Come on!” She called. “Get your feet wet!”
My heart pounding, I stumbled my way closer to the water, the cane of little use on the uneven surface.
“Fine, but only my feet!” I called back, stepping onto the wet sand compacted by the waves.
I hadn’t been around water in years, especially not the Ocean. Despite myself, I had to admit the feeling was exhilarating.
“Alright, come guide me!” I yelled, moving slightly closer.
There was no reply.
“Maggie, I need your help!”
Still no answer. My heart starting racing. “Don’t overreact,” I whispered, “she just didn’t hear.”
“Maggie!” I yelled, dropping my cane as I pressed further into the water.
Still no reply.
Starting to panic, I fell to my knees, dragging my hands across the coarse sand.
“Maggie!” I yelled again, the waves overpowering the sound of my voice. I never should have come out here with her alone.
“Maggie!” I yelled louder, my voice shaking with fear.
I crawled across the sand, the waves washing across my hands and legs.
“It’s okay,” I whispered, attempting to breathe calmly. “Don’t panic.”
I inched further into the Ocean, shaking with fear.
“Don’t do this to me!” I yelled. “Come back!”
There was no response. The only sounds were of the seagulls squawking over the crashing waves.
“She didn’t leave you here,” I whispered, reassuring myself. “She wouldn’t do that.” But the alternative…
I crawled further, struggling to stay upright as the undercurrent pulled at my legs.
“You know it’s pointless for me to look for you!” I yelled, not daring to crawl any further. “Say something! I’m serious!”
Alarms went off in my head, my hair standing on end. She would have said something by now if she could hear me.
Maybe she just ran away again. Or maybe she just swam too far down the coast…
True panic set in as I forced myself further into the Ocean, frantically casting my arms about in the water for any trace of her.
Minutes passed without any sign of her, the water steadily rising to my chest. Within each second that passed, I clung harder to the hope that she had merely run away. I fought the urge to yell, trying to listen for her instead.
Desperate, I pressed through the water toward the largest splashes I could hear, hoping one of them would be Maggie.
I tried to recall the swimming lessons when I was a kid, attempting to pull myself through the water, but it was useless.
More time passed. Nothing.
“Help!” I yelled, hoping someone would hear me.
“Help!” I yelled again, praying for a passerby.
Still no response.
Tears fell down my face as I felt my way through the waves. Dread began to take hold of me. She had been gone for far too long.
And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to stop searching, no matter how hopeless. If she hadn’t run away…
She was my responsibility; the only person in her life she really trusted, and I let her down.
Finally, I accepted the fact that I couldn’t save her.
“Help!” I yelled as loud as possible, moving back toward the shore. “Anyone, help!”
I gathered speed once I found shallower water, finally certain of which direction to run. Once I made it make to the sand, I turned left, orienting myself with the coast.
“Help!” I yelled repeatedly, running as fast as I could along the compacted sand.
Over and over again, I fell, tumbling into the sand only to get up and keep running. Someone had to be on this beach.
It seems like miles before he finally heard someone respond to his calls.
“Hey!” Someone yelled nearby.
I stumbled to a stop, instinctively holding out my arms in their direction.
“What’s wrong?” A woman’s voice asked from a short distance. I heard multiple footsteps moving through the sand.
“I can’t see and I lost my little sister,” I said frantically. “You have to help me find her.”
There was a moment of silence before the woman took my hand. Then a man spoke.
“Where did you last see her?” He asked, his voice urgent.
“We were past the rock formations,” I said, pointing behind me.
Without another word, the man ran past me, leaving me behind with the woman.
“I’m Veronica,” she said, holding my hand tight as we jogged through the sand. “We’ll find her, don’t worry. I’m calling the police.”
“Do you see him?” I asked.
“Hello? We have a missing person at East Beach…”
“Can you see them?” I asked again, shaking with fear.
She didn’t answer until she’d hung up with the police. “I can’t see past the rocks.”
Too frightened to wait, I ran back down the coast, my heart pounding.
I could hear Veronica following me, eventually grabbing my hand to force me to stop. “We’re past the rocks,” she said. “Sean is still looking. How far were you past the rocks?”
“I don’t know,” I said hopelessly, falling to my knees.
“It’s okay,” she said, patting me on the back. “I’m going to look for her too, okay? And the cops are on their way. Just stay here, we’ll find her before it gets dark.”
I nodded, listening as she ran through the sand into the water.
Trembling, I slammed my fists into the sand, screaming until I couldn’t any longer, collapsing in the sand.
Then all was darkness.
I opened my eyes, immediately grabbing the sunglasses from my nightstand.
“We’re going to put out some more signs, honey,” Sara said, patting me on the shoulder.
I nodded, feeling for the cane propped against my nightstand. “I’m coming.”
“You don’t have to,” she said soothingly. “I know it’s early.”
I shook my head, getting to my feet. “Just give me a minute, I’ll be right down.”
I could feel the weight of her smile as she left my room. Every morning since her disappearance, we put out more signs, holding onto the hope that Maggie had merely run away.
So far, she hadn’t turned up on any reports, nor had she surfaced at the beach, and with each passing day, I allowed my anger to drive me, refusing to acknowledge the sadness within.
If she ran, I had every right to be angry… and the alternative was too difficult for me to consider. So I chose to be angry.
I helped my parents search for her every morning for two weeks before giving up. My parents, however, never did.
Eventually, even my anger could no longer keep my depression at bay. I quit the wrestling team and spent most of my time in her old room, going through her things and picturing what it used to be like with her there.
The very first day after her disappearance, we found Maggie’s journal underneath her pillow. There was nothing else Maggie cared more about than her journal, and I never said this, but she would never have left us without it.
Both the cops and our parents read it, but said it didn’t contain anything useful. They even read parts of it to me, but I couldn’t handle listening to her thoughts and feelings like that. So back in her room it went.
Still, I liked to hold her journal when I was in her room. It made me feel close to her, despite not knowing what was inside. I would even run my hands along its pages while I replayed that last day with her in my mind.
Then, more than a month after her disappearance, I found something on the last few pages of her journal.
At first, I thought it was just a slight imperfection of the paper: a speck of dirt or bump of some type. Then I pressed harder, rubbing the pages together with my fingers.
It was brail.
My heart racing, I felt my way back through the pages to the first few bumps I could find:
It took me a while
to learn brail for
you, but it was worth
it. I just want to
let you know that
I love you, and I
hope to see you
Just in case they
Care, tell Jeff and
Sara I’ll be okay.
I’m going to miss
you, but I need to
find my own way.
I don’t feel whole.
I’m missing a piece
of me and I don’t
know what it is.
But when I figure
it out, and I’m ready,
I’ll come back to you.
With all of me,
This story came about from an idea I had, which was to try and write a story from the perspective of someone who couldn’t see.
I thought it would be fun to use all other descriptors except for sight because we tend to rely on visuals too often. So it was really just a fun exercise for me.
Then I decided there should be a very clear environment that we could still imagine easily, so I chose a body of water to keep us oriented. And the rest just came as a wrote.
One of the biggest deterrents for writers can be the lack of “amazing ideas.” Don’t let that stop you. If something sounds interesting to you, then pursue it. Diving into that creative part of your mind will likely stir up better and better ideas; things you would have never thought have had you not allowed yourself to explore.
This piece was actually a top selection in an international contest. I hope you enjoyed it! I will be writing more short stories soon, so keep an eye out!
2 thoughts on “Short Story: Maggie”
It was quite interesting to read a story without any visual descriptors. You captured the POV of a blind person pretty well- I could feel his lack of sight while reading. And congratulations on your story being a top selection in an international contest! It totally deserved it. Might I ask, which contest was it?
Thank you, I’m glad it came across! It was a contest hosted by Glimmer Train Publications.
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