We walk carefully along the lip of a low tide, following a tightrope of faded white foam. I have my arms stretched out like a T, so that my heel can come forward to meet the toe of a previous step without my body wobbling, so that I can follow along quietly, leaving nothing but imprinted echoes. This method of precision, the single file nature of both this walk and of us, is so vertical that it squeezes out any room for conversation, which is how you like it. I am trying to feel like I belong in this pressure pocket of silence. I stop wishing for the sound your voice (I wouldn’t be able to hear it over the rush of this tide anyway), or even the soft reverb of a cough, and instead I shift my attention to the back of your elbow, that poke of bone, the summit of a slim wing. I look up and think of flocks of blackbirds flying in upside-down V’s, and you are the point, and I am the only surviving part of your downslope; always following behind, but never catching up.

—By Juliet M., 19, Brooklyn