Em Dawson: ‘Blueberry Lips’

The sea seems to take away all the pain.
We lounge on the shore, our blanket sprawled upon the sand, the juice of wild blueberries still on our lips. Our bare feet are stained purple from the fallen berries crushed between our sandy toes.
The sea breeze ruffles through your auburn curls, the freckles sprinkled across the bridge of your nose like fallen stars from the heavens above. My little piece of the universe.
We hop along the half-submerged rocks, staring into the tidal pools- tiny worlds of their own. My foot catches, and I’m on my back in the shallow water staring up at the impossibly blue sky, sputtering for breath. Your face appears above me, backlit by the sun, your hair forming a halo around you. This must be what angels look like.
You grin down at me, the gap in your teeth barely visible, and offer me a hand. Your grip is strong as you pull me to my feet, holding me steady.
I slip again as I try to move closer, pulling us both down. You come up for air, your curls slick against the side of your face, and for a moment I cannot breathe.
My heart throbs with adrenaline. Before I can think, I kiss you. Your lips taste of sweetness. It lasts but a second, but it might as well have been forever.
I pull back. Your eyes are wide, your lips parted. Wordlessly, you clamber to your feet, leaving me sitting in the surf. You do not offer me a hand.
Breathlessly, we stumble back to the blanket on the beach, our blueberry toes sinking into the sand. You do not look at me. Instead, you occupy yourself with a small blue crab that has joined us on the blanket. You stare down at the crab, stroking his back with a single finger, but I can’t take my eyes off you.
The sun is beginning to sink below the horizon. I lay back, staring up at the sunset. You join me.
Our elbows are the only things that touch through the divide separating us. You raise a finger to the sky, pointing to a lone star hovering over us.
‘That’s our star.’ Your voice is low and gravelly, but not devoid of emotion. ‘So close, yet so far away. No matter how far we reach, we can’t touch it.’
You bring your arm down, fist clenched tight. Turning to look at me, you prop yourself up on one elbow, your hair still dripping. You open your hand- inside lies a pearlescent seashell.
Licking your lips, you meet my gaze, your murky brown eyes deeper than words can express. ‘Sometimes bits of the star fall to earth. We see them and are reminded of the star’s presence, but these little pieces are all we’re going to get.’
I tuck the seashell into the pocket on the front of my tunic, over my heart. Taking hold of your palm, I hold your hand gently, as if you could shatter at any moment. My voice is smooth. ‘The star never wavers. It’s always there, even if you can’t see it. You can always come back to me, Benji.’
Without taking my eyes off you, I press my lips to the centre of your palm, stained by blueberries.
You whisper my name so quietly that it’s nearly drowned out by the droning of the waves crashing upon the shore. ‘Theodore. Not Theo.’ Your dark eyes search mine. ‘It’s more regal that way.’
It is a privilege for my name to grace your lips. I want to kiss those lips again, to get lost among the taste of sea salt and blueberries and heartache.
Instead, we lay still, my head on your chest, every heartbeat beneath my ear another heartbeat that I get to spend with you. Another heartbeat from a broken heart still beating.
Love is fleeting. For now, though, we’re looking at the same star.

Em Dawson

Em is a fifteen-year-old poet and novelist based in the United States. She has recently finished her first novel, and is now in the process of finding a publisher.

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