The sun is up and peeking through my window begging me to come out give him a proper greeting. As I slip out of bed, a warm breeze tugs at my night gown, hurrying me along. I dash downstairs, out the door and climb the dune, stretching my arms out wide, letting the sun warm my skin. Mom calls me to breakfast, so I race the rising sun back down yelling, “I win,” as I reach the door before he is completely over the dunes. My mom smiles and shakes her head as she hands me my raspberries, buttery bagel and milk. I sit out on the upstairs deck watching the pelicans glide over the sea, just barely above the waves.
After breakfast, I snatch my still-damp bathing suit off the line and run to my room to change. I race my brother over the dunes and down to the beach where we spread out a blanket. We sit and wait for the dolphins to come and play in the surf. Finally, they appear, and we watch, barely breathing, while they jump, dive and splash just beyond the breakers. They chatter happily to each other then, with a flip of a tail and splash of a flipper, they say goodbye. My brother goes off to find Billy to play beach volleyball, and I go in search of the perfect piece of seaglass to add to my collection.
When I was little, my mom told me the story of seaglass. Once there was a mermaid who lived deep in the ocean. She was happy there, swimming with the dolphins and chatting with the whales. One day, a dark shape moved across the water above her. She was afraid but also curious. Suddenly, there was a splash and a creature she’d never seen before was swimming on the surface, so she swam up for a closer look. The creature looked a little like her brothers, but instead of a fin, it had two limbs. It was a human boy! She remembered her father’s stories about them. This one was pretty, with long red-gold hair and white skin. She fell instantly in love with him and, when his ship sailed away, she followed. When they arrived back in the harbor where he lived, she swam close to the boat, hoping to get another look at him. She went too close, and he saw her and how beautiful she was and he, too, fell in love. They met every day at the beach and talked to each other. One day, though, the boy didn’t come. Days passed with no sign of him. She risked swimming into the harbor to see if she could find him there. He wasn’t on his boat, but she did hear some fishermen talking about a boy, her boy, who had taken sick and died. She was inconsolable; her tears poured down her face and, as they touched the sea, they turned into smoky drops of glass all the colors of the rainbow; the seaglass was the joy seeping out of her heart. I know it’s just a story but it makes me a little sad for her broken heart. I think about my family, the people I love most, as I collect the beautiful pieces of glass.
The rays of the sun warm my shoulders as I half walk, half crawl along the sand. Soon my stomach reminds me that its time for lunch. I look down and see that I am standing directly on top of my shadow, which is the sun’s way of telling me my stomach is right. I turn around and hurry back home, but slowly enough to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
After lunch, I curl up in the rope swing on the shady side of the house and read my favorite book for the tenth time. I never get tired of reading about how Sara, a rich girl who became a scullery maid, imagines delicious feasts that magically appear in the attic for her and her friend, Becky! I close my eyes after a while and breathe deeply the salty sea air. I smell the earthy sweetness of the seagrass mixed with the slightly rotten smell of dead fish and crabs washed up on the shore. It’s my favorite smell in the world!
Late afternoon arrives with its deepening colors and quiet as I help mom with dinner, grilled swordfish that dad caught, Yum! We sit around the picnic table and talk about our day. It’s my brother’s turn to do the dishes so I scoot out the screen door before he can try to bribe me to do the for him.
I continue my search for sea glass until dusk turns everything shades of purplish pink, and it’s time to turn back. I meet my family on the beach. We sit and watch ships pass so far out that all we see are tiny blinking lights floating on the water. The stars begin to come out as the soft, dark blue velvet night surrounds us like a well worn blanket. We point out our favorite constellations and tell stories we’ve made up about them. Soon, Mom begins to sing in her creamy, smooth voice and Dad joins in with his strong deep one. I lean my head against my dad’s shoulder, and he pulls me against him, wrapping his arms around me. I’m really too old to be rocked to sleep in my dad’s lap, but I don’t think anyone will laugh. I drift off to sleep surrounded by love and dream of finding the perfect piece of seaglass.