Icons Of Charleston And The Low Country

"Charles, Thirteen, Building Dribble Sandcastles"




Charles turned thirteen that summer of ’82 on Botany Bay Island, a handsome, intense, melancholy child. I had always thought of him as the quintessential prince of all fairy tales. I could see him dancing with Cinderella, kissing Sleeping Beauty to awaken her, aguishly searching with thorn blinded eyes for his Rapunzel.

That summer Charles was especially withdrawn, silent and moody. He was especially thirteen.

But this was my first thirteen experience, as well as his. Neither of us had any idea how…well we were each "clueless".

I ached for Charles, but I did know enough not to try to talk to him. I had to "give him his space".

Day after day, for hours at a time Charles would lie limp on the people less, wilderness beach, staring out to sea, moving his eyes only when to follow a swooping flight of a sea gull or a ghost crab fleeing back into his hole, leaving his filigree tracks behind him.

Resting on one elbow, for hours; Charles listlessly dripped wet sand aimlessly into dribble sandcastles.

The child that I had known only the summer before, who designed, drew and built the most elaborate of castles, so carefully and delicately crafted, so fiercely guarded, was now as changed as the castles that he build.

But I knew in my heart that during these long lonely, lovely days of summer, on that magic flawless beach, building and rebuilding his castles, Charles was silently working through the dreams and desires of his own life.

Each summer, I could see him growing taller and stronger on the outside, but as I stood on the porch and studied that silent, sullen, silhouette on the beach, I thought of a crab outgrowing its shell; I thought of a butterfly escaping its cocoon, and I knew in my heart that this was what my beloved Charles was really doing.

And he had to do it by himself.

Sculpture and verse© by Alyse Lucas Corcoran


         Icons of Charleston