“Smile, kids!” said Mom, eyes and brows hidden behind the camera, as when she wore those horrid blocky sunglasses.
At the command, Cynthia’s head fell lazily to one side, her mouth gaping slightly open. Danny bared his teeth widely, as he thought back to the previous events of that day.
Danny padded along the darkened sand as the waves huffed forward, and, becoming self-conscious in the act, timidly receded. He felt a hard point under his right foot, and curled his ankle to one side to see what it was. Bending lower, he plucked the object out of the sand. It was a perfectly white, oval shell, with a pale, rainbow glazed interior. Danny took a moment to appreciate the rarity of such an object, and gently inserted the shell back into the sand. He hadn’t walked but thirty steps when a shrill noise flicked him sharply in both ears.
“Danny!” shrieked Cynthia. “Look what I found!”
Danny turned slowly. “What,” he said flatly.
“A shell!” Cynthia thrust the white shell forward which Danny had replanted just a minute ago. Her blue eyes were opened wide in awe, and her mouth gaped stupidly.
Danny’s eyes narrowed to slits, and his voice reached a high pitch as he yelled, “Hey, put it back!” And then, for good measure, “That’s my shell!”
Danny’s ears were jabbed again as Cynthia shrieked and ran in the opposite direction. He stood there perfectly still, livid to the point that he could feel the air warming around him. He thought back to when he sat in the kitchen while Mom made shrimp, watching the television broadcast scenes of soldiers running through desert gunfire, and thought, This is why there’s war. Because people take things they’re not supposed to.
He spun around dug his hand into the sand violently until he pulled up the first hard thing he could find. It was a badly formed piece of coral with holes in it. Perfect, he thought.
Danny raced after Cynthia to find her stooped over, using the pearly white shell as a crude shovel as she unceremoniously scooped sand into a pile. She screamed as he approached, and clutched the shell tightly in her fat fingers.
“Hey Cynthia…” he cooed. She screamed again.
“Cynthia!” Now both had screamed. Cynthia blinked twice and said nothing. “I’ll give you this magic shell,” Danny continued, holding up the malformed coral, “if you give me that.” He nodded quickly to the white shell, not wanting to reveal its true value.
“That’s not magic!” She spat through a recently gaped tooth, brows knitting together. Danny understood this defensiveness as hesitance.
Quickly, he replied, “Fine. Then I’ll take it.” He turned and started walking away.
“No!” came Cynthia’s voice as she crashed into him, toppling both to the ground as she ripped the coral rock from his fingers. Danny whipped around to see the white shell lying forgotten on the ground. He grabbed it, and ran.
“Say cheese!” said Mom after an inappropriately long pause. Danny stretched his lips back until they could go no further. The events of the day had transpired terrifyingly close to tragedy, but fortunately, reversed themselves in their last breaths.
Sometimes, Danny thought to himself, there’s justice in the world.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr / Yelnoc)