Summer beach going traffic careens down US Highway 170 at speeds averaging around 70 mph, complete with towels, coolers, kites, chairs, and children. They take the sharp turns at a minimum of 65, most whipping around the bend like a slingshot, but a few times each year some unfortunate pilot of these near-airborne vehicles will become distracted—a jellyfish-stung child, fire ant bites itching at the feet, sand in all the wrong cracks and crevices. They will shoot straight off the road, achieving significant airtime, enough time for oh shit, for the heart to drop into the stomach, the bites and the sand and the sting forgotten, before dropping into the marsh and slowly bubbling down into the mud, sometimes going unseen down there for days before a fisherman sitting on his bucket sees the car’s rear-end slowly being revealed by the receding tide.

Up the highway, before the trees turn to sand, sits Steeple Street, nestled off the main road at an angle, unnoticed by all but its residents. A faded yellow sign reads DEAD END, leaning lopsided from a collision long ago. A few bullet holes left by partying rednecks pepper the sign, and a tie hangs from its neck, bright blue, waving at cars as they pass. The house at 8555 lies at the end of the road, where the pavement simply turns to dirt and winds around tentacle-armed oak trees toward a house kept alive only by those living in it.

Arthur Barlowe sits in his rocking chair, rocking. Really, his last name is Fudd, but he had agreed with Jennie to continue her family name. She sits beside him now, also rocking on her own rocking chair. They rock in sync.


No, you don’t even see it. You see the absence of it. Blacker than the rest of the black. The negative of something. If you see it illuminated it's already too late. Through the windshield. Sometimes you see the eyes. Glowing at you. What they see, I don't know. Whatever it is makes them freeze up. Like they laid eyes on god, but gods coming at them real fast. Oh, at the end of Steeple. Down there with my wife. Well, I say “wife” but we aren’t legally married or anything like that. Can't be bothered. Husband and wife as far as we’re concerned. All there is to it. Yeah, one boy. Adopted. Delivered on a pool table upstate actually, parents just left him.

Met her a while ago now. A long while ago. Funny story, that. Well, I used to be a window cleaner. Repelled down the side of buildings with a bucket and hung there and just cleaned em. So I’m up there, way up, wiping down the windows when I see her through the glass. Well, her hair at least. Couldn't miss her in a crowd, she’s shoulders above most with hair so red you’d think you were seeing like a sunset up there, or something, and boy is she beautiful, I didn't even know that kind of beauty existed ‘til I saw her. So I was wiping away the suds and her face appears through the glass and scares the hell outta me, like I almost jumped out of the damn harness, and she’s just holding her stomach, just laughing and laughing and laughing, and so I start laughing too. Then all I can think is god is she pretty and I try talking to her, wiping backwards letters in the suds, asking her name and is she in the phonebook and she gets some paper and writes back, pressing the messages against the glass. Her name is Jennie she says and there's her phone number, and I’m writing it down, 646…707… but then the wind picks up, and boy the wind can be bad, so I start swinging around like a pendulum, only a little at first, but then I really get going, and I start going past the windows, flying by different rooms, and she's chasing me, running back and forth, trying to keep up, appearing for a second, holding up the paper with her number up for me, her red hair flying along behind her.


A dark old house, sagging under the weight of itself. Sunset over the marsh. A boy plays in the dirt outside, his new parents watching from within. In the boy's hand is a rubber ball, styled to look like an eye. It looks up at him from his palm. His other hand digs a hole the size of his small head. The boy places the eyeball into the hole, looks at it for a moment, then fills the hole with loose dirt, not packing it in. A heron stands in the marsh beyond. The sky is blue and the clouds are pink. The boy sticks his hands back into the dirt, feels around. He pulls out the eye, cleans the dirt from its pupil. It looks out over the marsh. Water reflecting the sky, orange light, deep shadows. The boy buries the eye, then finds it again. The heron dips its head, then raises with a fish in its beak. The couple inside the house turn and hold each other, resting within the other's weight. The boy plunges his hands down into the dirt, feels around for the eye. Can't find it. Feels around more. A breeze sends ripples through the cordgrass. He digs up the loose dirt, piling it up next to him. The hole is dark, empty. The heron raises its head upwards, long beak piercing the sky. It spreads its wings and lifts itself silently, effortlessly.


Four pelicans perched alone together on the groin, way out, past where Noah could stand while barely keeping face surfaced, one small wave away from a lungful of salt water. Only up to his knees, Noah stood, squinting at them. Art watched from the beach, Jennie dozing beside him. They had been out there with him, swimming, Jennie darting about beneath the water like a torpedo. Art often said that she had an ass like a life vest, a hopelessly buoyant bum that bobbed along behind her in the water. Despite this she was an excellent swimmer and would dive beneath the surface and ambush Noah if he wasn't careful, her rapidly approaching rump the only warning before she grabbed him by the ankles and pulled him under, leaving Art cackling and Noah gasping for air. She would speed around like this for some time before tiring, and Art would walk her back up the beach, leaving Noah to himself.

The waves slapped his legs as he waded deeper. The fin of a dolphin arced above the water on the horizon. A searing pain in the foot as he stepped, a wince as salt flooded the wound. Weight on the other foot, trying to see through the murk. Water to his shins now, receding. There, a conch in the sand. Red streak following. Shining wet, dark spirals glimmering. See the curve between the points, lines running down like oak. See how they meet at the end. Still a crown, not yet sand. Reach down to wear as the wave hits.

No time to take breath, he is spun by the water, face and chest dragging on the sand, lungs burning, limbs flailing as he is pushed to shore by the wave. It leaves him there, chest heaving, choking on salt, squinting up at the sun only briefly obscured by a fleet of pelicans overhead.


Jack Lindsay

"First and foremost, my writing is driven by memory–both the erasure and preservation of it. Because of this, I’m drawn to fiction, where I can record bits of my life, some monumental, others seemingly inconsequential. My submission is composed of excerpts that belong to a larger piece of work inspired by the place I grew up in, where, in an attempt to capture the journey of a life from childhood to old age, I offset vivid flashes of memory with the lack thereof. I write characters that carry the details of people in my life as well as my own stories: summers on the marsh, losing a rubber eye in the dirt. Therefore, ultimately, my trace lies within storytelling, my life hidden within the lines."

Jack Lindsay is a student and writer from South Carolina. His fiction is a place where his experiences can rest, fit in the files of the story and make it real: a tie hanging from a street sign, the look of a conch shell after it cuts your foot, a blue heron taking flight. At any given time, he can be found writing in about eight different notebooks, talking to strangers, and perusing his grandfather’s old books on his remote barrier island home near the ocean.

Why is this your Trace Fossil?