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Once, there is a boy. A boy up to his waist in sand. How did he get here? Well, let’s just say our story begins here. He is in sand.

Now this boy is not acquisitive. He is not sensitive or destructive or any other tive I can think of. He is just a boy. A boy in sand.

Surrounding him and his sand is a white wooden fence. Where a gate would go, there is instead a doorframe. There is no door, just a doorframe. The boy’s position in the sand faces him towards this gap in the fence, and on very good days, he can lean far enough forward to graze the edge of the frame with his fingertips. But the sand is heavy, and he relaxes back to an upright position.

On these particularly good days that he manages to touch the wood, he can see through the doorframe, and out of his little world of sand and fences. The world beyond his is nothing. A simple, flat plane. Except for a door. No doorframe, just a door. This door stands without support, aligned with nothing. When the boy relaxes upright in the sand, the fence just blocks the door from view.

Next to the boy, half buried in sand, lays a single fragment of cloth. It resembles a handkerchief, or maybe a napkin, but is has never been used for such purposes. In fact, it has never received any attention from the boy whatsoever. It is dirty. Appropriately dirty, belonging to a boy living in dirt, but nevertheless, its life and color faded years ago. Now it is grey and dirty.

There they both are, boy and cloth, both half buried in sand. Today is a very good day, and the boy is making his traditional good day journey. He closes his eyes and reaches a little more and… what’s this? A hand? He looks up. Here is Kate. She is dressed very simply (jeans and a t-shirt), but with the most beautiful green scarf dangling from her neck. Astonished, he scrambles back as fast as his hands can take him. She laughs at his surprise, her arm hugging the doorframe. She sits, looking at him for a while, the laughter still dancing in her brown eyes. Finally she stands and walks away. She will be back.

All the boy thinks of is that beautiful green scarf; he longs for it.

The next day, the girl brings a friend. Here is Peter. Just Peter. He is dressed carefully, the sleeves of his button down shirt rolled up just a little. He wears a red scarf, the most beautiful red scarf the boy has ever seen. This red scarf takes the place of the green scarf in the boy’s fantasies, and now it is all he can think about. Peter reaches out to shake the boy’s hand, but thinks better of it. Peter and the girl depart. He walks, quite literally, through the door, and is gone. She does not. The girl will be back.

The girl brings many friends. Everyday: scarves.

This continues for weeks. The weeks stretch into months. Soon the months become years. The boy sees scarves he has never imagined. There are some with patterns, some long and some short, some even with rips or holes. He finds these the most interesting. The boy begins to see repeated colors or patterns in some of the scarves, but there are always new ones to be found. The girl is always there. Always smiling.

On very good days, he even has the courage to reach out for one of the beautiful of scarves, but the owner pulls back hastily, giving the boy a concerned glance before departing. The boy never learns, however, and continues to grab at these magnificent wonders. The owner, always surprised by his rude antics, proceeds to immediately turn away and walk through the door.

And then, there are no more friends. They have all walked through the door. For 17 days, only the girl lingers.

In these final 17 days, the boy often spots the girl through the window of vision the doorframe provides. She is torn between two worlds. Sometimes, between three. Sometimes, when their eyes meet, she comes and sits in the doorframe, her arm hugging the post. She does not pay attention to the boy. She sits, looking away. Mostly, she is looking at the door, but the boy does not notice. He can think of nothing but the beautiful scarves.

The years have all blended together. The final 17 days are up, and the happenings have become a lifetime. The girl is in front of him. Her scarf has faded slightly, but she has taken care of it over the years, and it is still the most beautiful scarf the boy will ever see. She takes his hands in hers, smiles sadly, and speaks the first and last word he will hear. Goodbye. She stands and begins to walk away, towards the door this time. She will not be back.

Leaning back, he thinks of the scarves. All those beautiful scarves. There were many times the boy was close to holding one of the beautiful scarves in his hand, and he longs for just one more chance to snatch one of the treasures from the unsuspecting owner’s hands. His thought is interrupted when his hand touches something behind him. It is his grey fragment of cloth. But, as he tugs on it, he realizes it is longer than he first assumed. He pulls it from the sand, and suddenly, it does not seem so dirty. It is a grey scarf. Long ago, it was once green.

Something in the boy erupts into life, and he realizes everything in the world (besides his sand and his fence), is leaving with the girl. He struggles in the sand, clawing at it, kicking, twisting. He has never wanted anything so intensely. And suddenly, with this thought, the sand is limp around him. He takes redemption by the hand and rises from his prison, leaving only regrets imprinted in the sand. With his grey scarf clutched tight in a fist, the boy catches up to the girl. She smiles at him, takes his hand, and together, they walk forward through the door.

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