She digs through the sand with a calm, unnatural sort of focus.
Each handful feels soft and powdery on her skin as it slips between her fingers every time she attempts to gather it up. She has been digging for hours now. Her nails are chipped. The skin on her hands has been rubbed raw as caked blood gathers under her fingernails. She tries not to wince from the pain. Slowly, grain by grain, the sides of the hole gently collapse and wash away her progress.
Still, she continues to dig. There is a constant rhythm to her movements, like the steady beating of wings.
The ocean roars in her ears as the waves froth and foam behind her, rising ever higher with the tide. Today they appear more menacing than usual. The crest of each wave breaks into the mercury-coloured water with a brutal force.
She keeps digging, pushing her fingers down into the cool white sand. She knows she is close now. There isn’t much time left. She moves more quickly, with more precision, anticipating the end. Finally, she sinks her hands into the sand until her elbows have disappeared beneath the fluid surface, and closes her eyes against the salty, freezing wind.
Her hands search for her.
Deep down in the cool damp sand, her fingertips brush up against something warm and soft. Wrapping her fingers around its delicate form, she pulls as hard as she can without tearing the object apart. At first it doesn’t want to yield. She tugs a little harder and feels it come loose.
It breaks away from the ground.
She opens her eyes and looks down at the prize in her hands. The golden sunflower radiates warmth and light, the bright yellow petals shivering in the breeze. It looks just as bright as the day she had buried it. How many years have passed since then? As night falls over the beach, she sits in the freezing cold, cradling her beautiful sunflower and sheltering it from the beating rain that starts to fall.
As she does, the flower begins to glow like a candle in the dark.