Painter Douglas returns home from overseas with his new wife Margaret. Margaret wants to know everything about him as they arrive at his childhood home and she looks around, Douglas remembers someone else who admired him as an artist once. As they walk around the area, Douglas says there's nothing else to see but she notices the nearby lake and asks Douglas to take her there.
As they go to the lake, Douglas remembers when he was there at the age of 10 and fell in love with a girl, Tally, who complimented him on his sandcastle. Douglas insisted it was nothing, but Tally said that it was and asks to help. The two of them go to work but a young kid leaps on it. Douglas starts to go after him, but Tally says that they'll build a better one. When they finish, they sign their names to it and smile. Tally runs into the water to swim but Douglas hesitates for a few seconds. Finally he tells her that he can't swim and she tells him that she'll teach him by the end of the summer. Tally swims out but Douglas insists that the water hates people. Tally's mother calls her and Douglas assures her that he'll be there every day for her. Throughout the summer, the two children build more sandcastles and Tally teaches Douglas how to swim. However, Douglas always believed the lake was his enemy and refused to go out with her.
Margaret insists on going to the beach. Mark walks with her and they kiss.
As the summer grows to a close, Tally says that her family is leaving but she promises that she'll be there every single summer. She runs to the lake and tells Douglas that it's his last chance to swim. He refuses and she ignores her mother to swim out into the lake.
In the present, Douglas tells Margaret to stay behind as he walks to a sandcastle on the empty beach. He remembers Tally disappearing into the lake and being unable to go after her. The lifeguard dives in but is unable to find her. Douglas tears apart his castle and keeps rebuilding it, hoping that Tally will return to help him finish it. Finally he finishes it and hopes that Tally approves. However, it rains and the sandcastle melts away.
Mark looks at the sandcastle and realizes it's the first half that Tally built as a child. He looks out to the lake and asks if she'll come if he finishes it. He gets no answer but starts to kneel down and work on it. Margaret calls out to him but he ignores her. He completes his work and looks out to the lake. A lifeguard rows to shore with a child's corpse. He explains that no one has drowned there in 25 years. Douglas strokes her hair and realizes that Tally kept her promise after all.
Douglas goes back to the castle and looks at it for a moment, and then walks back to Margaret. He hugs her and they walk back to the house. Behind them, the water comes in and washes away the castle.
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