Hunting Sand Dollars
Then when we got back to the cottage Mom would yell at us for having sand in our socks, but we won’t care. They sell sand dollars in the shops for two dollars apiece so Crissy and I will sell them on the boardwalk for seventy-five cents. It’ll be enough, if we do well, to buy O.C. T-shirts. And I love walking up and down the aisles picking out one that’s just right. A seagull and a sunset over the ocean. the colors always fade by the next year, though.
The sun was hot when the wind didn’t blow, and Mom made us wear longsleeves to protect us from the sun. Said we were better than the migrants and shouldn’t be so brown.
“Oh, leave ‘em alone,” Dad said from the bathroom. He’d gone in there for more rum. Kept it in the tank to keep it cold. “Better’n a refrigerator,” he’d say.
Once Mom was satisfied we wouldn’t wander too far we raced out of the cottage and chased each other in the dunes, hiding in the dry grass. I tripped on some driftwood and Crissy jumped the fence and was out on the beach, running, scattering gulls and sandpipers.
I didn’t run into the wet sand like she did. I plunked down in the sand and cigarette butts and beer cans and pulled off my shoes and socks, leaving them in a balled-up mess near the path. Crissy came running back out of breath, her feet wet with her shoes still on them.
The sand was hot on my knees as I knelt to untie her shoes, and it was hard, she wouldn’t stop squirming. Her hat blew off and she chased it into the water before I could take off her other shoe. She sat down in the waves, hat in her mouth and tore off her other shoe.
“I can feel them!” she shouted. The water was up to her waist. I ran out with her, I had the sack. I let my feet be covered by sand when the waves crashed into me. The water was up to my knees and I watched Crissy so she wouldn’t fall down.
I felt them too. They’re faster than you might think, all squirmy when they’re alive. My toes followed one until I had him. I pressed down hard and closed my eyes against the surf. My shirt was soaked and heavy by now and I bent to grab him with my hand.
It was a big one. His hairs sparkled a little in the sunlight and I laughed, throwing the brown prize into our sack.
“First one!” I said jubilantly.
Crissy laughed and showed both hands. She held two small ones, and I knew it would be a good summer.