by Savannah Jade

Firm arms wrapped around my body as we lay atop a dark green crocheted blanket in the sand. Each grain molded to the contours of our figures, leaving imprints in the shape of mini sand dunes. Past his shoulder where my chin rested, my fingertips grazed the peak of the nearest dune, tracing the curvature of Earth’s natural occurring memory foam. The sand trickled down, forming a small waterfall that shimmered like feldspar in the afternoon sunlight. 

Another wave crashed, sending a gust of warm wind our way like a sleeping dragon exhaling, followed by a refreshing puff of mist to cool our tan skin. I breathed in his cedar patchouli–scented cologne and smiled. He squeezed me once before pulling away to look at me. Hazel eyes met my deep blue ones. Where the forest meets the ocean—this is home. 

As he leaned in to offer me a kiss, a chunk of wet sand landed between our lips. Behind our heads, Kenai’s paws were plowing furiously into the sand, his own head nearly buried by how far he’d managed to dig. 

“Kenai!” Daniel shouted, spitting out sand like grape seeds. “Mom and I are trying to have a moment here!” 

As if in apology, his brown tail swiped away the stains on our lips, only for another chunk of wet dirt to land on our heads. 

I threw my head back in laughter. “He has selective hearing.” 

“That’s it!” Daniel play-tackled him in the sand.

Our 80-pound pup was surprisingly quick to counter. His ears flopped in the air as he pivoted to sit directly on Daniel’s face. 

“At least he doesn’t have any balls to T-bag me”—he squirmed beneath his recently neutered privates—“or he’d be a lot more aggressive about it.”

“You’re right.” I helped shove him off. “Is that what you were looking for down there buddy? Your balls?” I cooed.

Kenai whined and spun around at his favorite word to find a rubber ball already in my hand. “Fetch!” 

Sand sprayed the both of us as he bolted off. Laughing, we both faced one another, flushed cheeks and joy pulling our lips together to resume where we left off. 

My eyes flickered awake at the sound of a monitor beeping. 

Everything was bright. Too bright. Nothing like the shimmering, warm reflection of the water in my dream. I tried to blink away the stark contrast of reality, but it only projected the scene like a still motion. Frame after frame after frame. An IV bag being switched out. The new one still half empty. A white coat flittering about the room like an albino butterfly flapping wings for the last time. In the center, a hospital bed, elevated slightly, humming as it continued to rise. And an emaciated hand, resting over the edge into empty space. Space I rushed over to fill.

You can read the rest of this story by purchasing our print issue or our online flipbook (coming soon)!

About the Author

Savannah Jade, author of Began with a Rose, originates from all over Southern California as she’s moved over 20+ times due to a wanderlust spirit and an inability to commit to anything other than dogs and books. When she’s not writing or reminding Koda that he’s a good boy, Savannah enjoys studying evolutionary psychology, attending stand-up comedy shows, and eating enough Cold Stone ice cream to pay the company’s rent. Her current works in progress include a YA Fantasy novel and a poetry novella illustrating indigenous peoples’ experiences. For more, visit her website or Instagram.