child bounced along the shoreline. Her little feet left impressions in the wet sand, and the prints followed her
up the beach, weaving unevenly between the dry sand and the sea. Her little arms waved wildly as she shook the
wet weed that had washed up on the early tide. And when tiny crabs scuttled across her path, her shrieks would
be merged with the sound of distant waves breaking on the point. Her parents walked behind, some distance from
the small girl, so that they could see her as she bobbed and skipped her way along the water's edge. The glistening
rock dried quickly as the sun emerged from the shelter of gray cloud and bathed them all in its healing warmth.
The little girl stopped suddenly and dropped to her knees. She scooped up a handful
of sand and began picking grit from something small and white. She swatted the object clumsily, then ran to the
shallows and dipped it into the water. She held the object aloft and examined it in the glow of the sun. She dipped
it again and once more held it to the light. She squealed in rapture, dipping and raising the object repeatedly.
As she did so, she noticed that she could hold water in the object and began dunking and tipping so that the object
was filled and emptied, filled and emptied, filled and emptied. Then she leapt from the incoming tide and up onto
the hard surface. She knelt down once again and dug into the sand with the object. It made a satisfying scraping
sound as she carved sharp circular markings. She got up, her knees were dirtied with the wet sand, but she did
not move to brush them clean. She held the object to her lips and blew on it to produce a whistling sound. Then
the girl held the object to the front of her dress, looking down at herself as she did so. It could have been a
The couple, who had kept their distance, had been intrigued by the display and were curious as to what it was that
the girl had taken so much delight in. They walked more quickly to catch her up. But the little girl also moved
quickly and was now running up the rise toward the bank of rock that lined the shore. She stopped to toss the object
into the air and as the sun caught it, the object disappeared for a moment, then fell sharply to the ground and
landed on a clean patch of wet sand. She did not stop to see where it fell but continued toward something that
she already spied upon the flat rocks, awaiting the investigation of inquisitive hands.
Soon the girl's parents came upon the fallen object and the man stooped to snatch it from the ground. Examining
it for a moment he then rejected the object and let it drop from his hand without a second glance.
"What was it?" the woman inquired eagerly and she turned to see what the man had cast aside.
"Just a shell." The man replied without emotion.
"Oh…" said the woman and she turned back again.
The little girl was now captivated by a piece she had found in a rock pool and called to her mother and father
to come and look. The couple did not hurry up the beach to respond to her invitation, but instead walked slowly,
confident that it was very likely a stone or a scrap of seaweed and as they moved toward their child, they wondered
what they might do tomorrow.