On the Beach

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2000

By Liza Brown, Illustrated by Valerie Thompson

Sally walked slowly across the long stretch of brown sand, tripping over small pebbles blocking her path. She scurried down to the rocks, dirtyblond hair flying as she went. Casually, she brushed back her hair with a quick flick of her hand. She spied a blue blob among the rocks. She loved looking for long-lost tennis balls, Superballs and dog toys. She scampered hurriedly to the resting place of the blue blob. To her great disappointment, a Pepsi cup stuck out. She ignored it and darted between the rocks, peering between, in and around the rocks and crevices. Suddenly, a bright green ball caught her eye.

“Fleepo!” she called, whistling for her brown mutt. The dog, long tongue, floppy ears and huge brown eyes, greeted her with a yap loud enough for the whole world to hear. She summoned her dog over to the green ball. Easily reached, she freed the ball from its nook between two large rocks. Sally grinned and threw the ball in the air.

Fleepo sped across the rocks to catch the wild green blur. She snapped it up in her mouth and returned it to her owner. Sally threw the ball far out toward the water and watched as the small puppy dipped in to retrieve it. The pup, now covered in mud and water, dropped the ball proudly at Sally’s feet, ignoring the other dogs sniffing at her. Sally petted each new dog and let the ball fly. Each dog sailed down to the water and splashed up water almost reaching Sally. She laughed as they clambered over each other and waited until they returned the ball. As the ball took another trip through the air, Sally smiled and thought, Only dogs can make me happy that fast.

On the Beach people swimming

He noticed his sister testing the water and sank under, planning his attack

Jordan watched as a light brown lizard crawled carefully around the rocks. He grimaced as his loud brother stomped his way over to him.

“Hi, Jordan.” His small brother collapsed into a heap of a large T-shirt and skinny legs.

Jordan sensed a sadness in his brother’s tone of voice and turned. Sure enough, a glittering tear dripped down his brother’s face. Jordan patted his brother gently on his head. “What’s wrong, Parker?”

His brother let both eyes roll down to his shoes and mumbled, “It’s Pete’s Sake. He’s gone.”

“What happened?!” Jordan’s mind supplied thoughts of drowned dogs and paws sticking up in the air. He grimaced for a second time and stared at his brother.

“I lost ‘im.”

Jordan smiled to himself. You could not lose a dog in this park. All the dogs stuck together in here, either darting between rocks or soaring through the air to catch a ball. Jordan took his brother’s small hand and led him up the rocks. He peeked around the hills, pointed out good hiding spots of most of the dogs, and headed across the bridge.

Still clutching his brother’s hand, Parker scanned the small hills around i8 the park. Sure enough, Pete’s Sake was romping around with two other dogs on a hill. Parker grabbed Jordan around the waist. “Oh, Jordan! Thanks so much! I was major worried!”

Jordan smiled and led his brother back to the rocks. He showed him the former resting place of the lizard and continued searching for more. He didn’t even mind his brother’s pounding feet; suddenly lizards and noise didn’t seem that important anymore. On a sudden instinct, he grabbed Parker’s hand and took in his brother’s deep smile. Jordan just grinned back and didn’t let on the deep thought going on in his head. Only Parker can make me happy that fast, he thought, and skipped over three rocks to catch an escaping lizard.

Solemnly, Rita crawled down to the rocks and pulled off her shoes. A glint of bright metallic light suddenly caught her interest, but she brushed it away from her mind like a piece of lint. She wiggled her toes slowly, disgusted at the dirt clodding her big toe. She scraped it off with a stick and watched the waves float in the sea. She heard her cousins discussing her bad mood and planted herself deeper into her foul feeling of disgust. The metallic glint caught her eye again and this time, to avoid and surprise her cousins, she got up to examine it. As she grew closer, a shiny seashell came into her view. Handling the shell like a cracked egg, she brought it close to her glowing eyes. Since it was abandoned by its previous owner, Rita claimed it and tucked it into a make- shift bag, giving her bandana to the cause. Suddenly, it seemed like the whole beach was shining. She collected shell after shell, passing brother, uncle and cousins on her way without even a mean glance. Finally when her bag was full, she carefully placed them into her basket, now unloaded of its earlier package of picnic food. She unwrapped the bandana and quickly skipped back to the damp sand of the bank of the ocean.

Before she knew it, Rita was letting water tickle her toes as she reached for a large, shimmering red shell. Without full notice, she had rolled up her shorts and was thigh-deep in ocean water. She laughed as the water tickled her legs. Forgetting all about her foul mood, she gleefully showed her now interested brother about the shells. Soon, speckles of children could be seen, each slowly picking up fragile shells and placing them in bandana-bags. Rita delicately placed another shell in her bag and smiled, thinking, Only seashells could make me happy this fast. She helped her cousin carry up his bag without noting her kindness and climbed back down to the ocean of shells below her.

Todd flicked an ant off his toe and rolled his eyes. His sister was flirting with two boys and he was disgusted. Finally, too bored for anything else, he left the warm comfort of his picnic blanket to visit the ocean. Some kids were collecting seashells, but he ignored them. Already in his swimming trunks, he tested the water like it was a sleeping grizzly and relaxed to find the temperature reasonable. His blue eyes checked over the ocean and he smiled, relieved of no shark sighting. Deeper and deeper he went, pulling his goggles over his eyes and exploring the underwater world. He saw mostly green water, but a few fish darted into view. Todd floated up and down, catching breath after breath. His sister was eyeing him, daring him to embarrass her. He just turned, not caring about her anymore. He flipped deep under, welcoming two boys, brave and ready for fun. Soon, a game of marco polo started and Todd was it. He splashed and yelled at the top of his lungs, reaching her rapidly disappearing arms and legs. With a loud screech he caught a victim and pulled on his goggles again. He noticed his sister testing the water and sank under, planning his attack. When her ankles came into view, he bit them. Not hard but enough for a shriek to reach his ears. He jumped up and his sister screamed. He pulled her under and smiled. Only the ocean can make me happy that fast. With a yank of her ponytail, Todd joined her into the game, announcing that she was it. Almost oblivious to the new girl and her dog, a boy with his younger brother and a young girl joining the game, Todd thought, Well, I’m sure no one understands about this beach making me leap for joy.

On the Beach Liza Brown

Liza Brown, 11
Berkeley, California

On the Beach Valerie Thompson

Valerie Thompson, 12
Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada

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