Maddy Chang

His name is Jerry, and when she says that, it’s usually accompanied with a lovesick sigh and dreamy smile. Their meeting occurred on an insignificant summer day, when going to get a cup of coffee. Fingers accidentally collide, and when she looks up, she’s met with blinding eyes. 

He’s her first boyfriend. It’s summer, so they spend almost all of the passing days together. From when the first rays of sunlight wave hello, to when they blend back in with the ocean waves. It’s ice cream dates and boardwalks and never getting bored. It’s pearly smiles and warm, intertwined fingers. It’s the feeling of being invincible, standing on top of the mountain and feeling as if you can never fall. * * * 

One of their dates involves building a sand castle. He sits next to her, watching, as she tentatively gathers sand into a pile. The waves nudge gently at her curled legs, saying hi. She takes another glob of overly wet sand and packs it onto the structure. 

She built most of the foundation, Jerry helping with the finer details. He’s content to just watch her for the majority of the time. A happy feeling settles over her as the water batters against their castle, but only succeeds in slowly breaking down the walls. Even once they leave, the castle remains–it’s unfinished, the two neglecting to add most of the finishing touches. But it stands there, silent, against the movement and push of the tide. 

* * * 

At first, it’s just small things. 

“I don’t really like it when you wear your hair up,” he comments idly, as they dangle their feet from the edge of the boardwalk. 

She immediately lets go of the ponytail she was about to tie, muttering a quiet, “Sorry.” No other comments follow, but his words weigh on her–it’s only a small crack on her rose-tinted glasses, an “oh.” She doesn’t think too much of it. Well, not too much. 

* * *

Jerry tends to make plans on the same day she has them with her friends. At first, she doesn’t mind, nor notice, and neither do her friends. It’s a new relationship, this phase is expected. None of it screams, GLARING RED FLAG, and she abides to his requests to hangout, quietly. 

But eventually, her friends start getting annoyed. They beg her to ditch him, just once, so they can have their fun little girls’ hangout they’ve been talking about all summer. She wants to, she really does, but the second she pictures his disappointed face and silent treatment, she can’t. Shaking her head, she ignores the bitter looks she receives because it all gets better when he meets her at their spot and greets her with a hug. 


Those cracks seem to show up more frequently. 

* * * 

Slowly, he starts to become the only thing that matters. Other people start to notice. Her mother encourages her to do something other than spending her day at the boardwalk, linking hands and getting ice cream, but she refuses. 

“I’m happy because I’m with Jerry,” she says. 

“Are you?” is her mother’s reply. 

* * * 

It’s almost the end of summer–a summer that has almost been completely spent with Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. She hasn’t talked to her friends in weeks, their last message being a dry, one-worded reply. She doesn’t feel invincible anymore. 

Jerry holds her hand and sends an earth-shattering grin, one that might’ve sent her into giggles a month ago, but now, only serves as a reminder of her loneliness. She didn’t even realize it was possible to be lonely when you were with someone else, but– 

She still loves him, because he’s Jerry, and why wouldn’t she be happy with him? “Can we do something else today?” she asks, nonchalantly toying with a strand of hair. He responds with, “Why?” and shakes his head. Crack.


* * * 

When she gets back home that night, she’s greeted by her mother sitting on the couch, waiting. A small woman, personality always too big for her petite frame, stares. Her eyes radiate loudness, and she can do nothing but scrunch under her gaze. 

“This isn’t love,” her mother tells her. 

She doesn’t respond to her mother’s words, but those tinted glasses finally shatter. She knows. 

* * * 

She digs her toes into the sand, feeling the small, pebbly feeling under her feet. He knows; she can tell by the way he’s slouching, the way he’s already begun to mentally check out of this conversation. “I can’t do this,” she tells him. 

He scoffs, saying, “You’re just like the rest,” before leaving. 

He doesn’t look back a single time, and once he’s out of sight, she… doesn’t know how to feel. She’s not relieved. She doesn’t feel anything, really. It’s that last blob-like remnant of a sandcastle that’s slowly being erased by the ocean. No more of that glorious, sharp structure–and all you’re left with is an unidentifiable shape in the sand. 

* * * 

His name is Jerry. When she says that, there’s no emotion behind it. Just another name, another memory that will eventually fade away, as most summers do. The memories on the sand have finally been washed away.