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“Sydney!” Hollow as her eyes her figure materialises from the darkness. He watches her as she steps forward analysing every move trying to figure out what is different. The sand stretches between them and her heels sink downwards. It is a minor annoyance one she asked for by refusing to remove the mental barrier of style. She can not allow herself to be carefree she feels if she does she will break down. Alcohol makes movement unsteady. She sways keeping her gaze focussed on the lone figure, on nothing else. He is her target. If she makes it that far before collapse she will be happy. He steps closer or further away. That is breaking the rules she decided not realising how close she is as her vision blurs in and out of focus. Strong arms encompass her pulling her from the fast rising ground she wasn’t aiming for embrace or comfort. She is sure she doesn’t deserve it. She came to comfort him as she always does. Every year she stands between him and choking grief. She didn’t mean to be out of it. She meant to be there for him sane and strong, everything she symbolised. True her strength was drawn from weakness but to others she seemed invincible. She meant too project that image so well he believed it. Never could fool Sydney but it was ever worth the challenge. He is holding her up when she should be holding him.
“I’m sorry.” she sobs attempting to pull herself together but she has long since lost control.
“How drunk are you Parker.” Wrong question she sensed she’d give the wrong answer.
“I’m not drunk Syd, Just tipsy.” She giggled as the strange word left her mouth and he smiled grimly his expression hidden with the moon’s shadow.
“You know you’re a hopeless liar when you’re drunk Parker.” The last few words were slightly strained bringing out his accent as she almost slipped from his grasp. He tightened his grip around her waist lowering her onto the sand and sitting down beside her. She shivered in the cool summer night air and turned her face to stare up into his, her eyes sparkling childishly.
“Can we make a Sandcastle Syd?” She pleaded. He looked at her strangely the professional crumbling before his eyes into the vulnerable child he’d long ago comforted.
“I think that alcohol went straight to your head Parker.” He mused looking down at her fondly. The eagerness faded as a slip of memory and she was once again herself. She pulled herself closer to him needing either comfort or warmth and not bothering just for the moment to justify the crack in persona.
“I miss Tommy.” She whispered lower than a whisper afraid of the powerful emotion.
“It won’t get any better and it won’t get any worse.” He stated thinking distinctly of his brother the accident replaying in his mind as it had so many times over the years he’d lost track. A basket lay nearby which she’d brought yet set down afraid she’d drop it. She crawled towards it pulling out a bottle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes. She lifted the bottle to her lips taking one last sip before it was torn from her hands.
“I think you’ve had enough Parker.” She grabbed blindly with annoyance for the anaesthetic but the tossed it out of reach and grabbed hold of both her hands.
“It’s not going to bring him back.” She shook her head defiantly before breaking into tears. He pulled her once again closer holding her tightly as she sobbed bitterly. Her body shook with the impact of grief, which brought no comfort only lost memory. He listened as the sea crashed wildly below them a back ground to her sobs and his silent tears. He felt her body become lax as she passed out from the combined effect of the alcohol and her grief. He watched as the sun rose slowly above the horizon not absorbing the beauty only what it symbolised. Another day he couldn’t share with his brother and another day she couldn’t share with Tommy. Her breathing was steady yet slowly she woke her eyes squinting open as she was faced with the full blinding conclusion to the sky show he’d been watching. Sensing his thoughts she reached her hand up and ran it through his hair. He looked downwards and she smiled faintly.
“It’s another day we can share with each other.” She whispered. He allowed the meaning to wash over him with the salty breeze drawing her more tightly into his embrace and smiling gently with her words he found peace.
“So do you still want to make a sand castle?” He offered. Light filtered through her eyes and she laughed with genuine pleasure. The soft sand grew into the castle of their long dead and forgotten dreams. They did not see what was there but what they had lost. To any passer by they were father and daughter unwittingly that was one dream through grief shared they’d gained.
“It has to have shells Syd, it’s not a real castle without shells.” He smiled at her radiant face flushed with the early morning air. She was the happiest and most carefree he had seen her since her mother died.
“Ok Parker, you get the shells, I’ll guard the castle.” She nodded joyfully and he watched her search until her object brought her almost out of sight.
“Don’t got to far.” He called in sudden alarm. She smiled from the distance leaning down to wash her treasure in the sea. He laughed as a wave caught her off guard and she ran back to him soaked.
“I hope the fact you find this so funny means you’ll pay the dry cleaning bill.” She ranted in mock anger.
“Charge it to the Centre.” he advised.
“I’d much rather charge it to Jarod’s account. You think he has an independent income Syd because with the amount of clothes I’ve ruined chasing him around the country I could send him broke.”
“Now Parker don’t get any ideas,” he warned half jokingly. The cream pink and apricot tones of the shells created the perfect contrast to the white sand as they stepped back to admire their handy work.
“It’s perfect.” Parker whispered as she slipped her arm through Sydney’s.
“And it’s ours.” Sydney finished decisively almost contemplatively as they headed back toward Miss Parker’s house.