The waves crashed forward, sending shimmering strips of shredded lace down the jagged rocks in ribbons. In one of the smaller tide pools along the bay, a crab scuttled back and forth frantically tying down his possessions to keep the incoming tide from washing them away.
Sheldon heaved a little.
“Oh God!” he said. It was just a figure of speech, of course, because Sheldon was, rightly, raised atheist.
“The tide is coming. The tide is coming,” the starfish cried with glee.
“Oh, no!” whined Sheldon, over and over, under his breath.
Sheldon looked over his pile of necessities, shaking his head in dismay. He would need a larger shell to fit everything. One antenna twisted round to the large hump of a shell arching back behind his head.
It was looking a little shabby. A barnacle had finally attached itself to the indentation that stretched across horizontally on his left side. It was too far back to reach, even with the help of his special scraper. He had made it from the half oyster shell he found around the corner. A bit morbid, perhaps, but how else could he reach those pesky growths without some aid. Besides, he’d told himself at the time, a Mr. Fredricks, may he rest in tranquil waters, won’t miss it.
Sheldon sighed heavily, but was interrupted by the sound of a wave crashing on the craggy surface of the rock pools just down the way. The tide was rising rapidly now and would soon reach his cul-de-sac.
He turned away from his possessions, determined to find a bigger shell that could hold everything; even the sea glass with the ornate curved edges and his seaweed brush. With as much determination as a scuttle can portray, Sheldon headed to the next tide pool over. He hoped, maybe, there would be a few empty shells lying about. Since he needed the shell more carrying, rather than for body mass, fighting another, likely larger crab for the bigger shell, seemed a likely unhappy ending for Sheldon.
So he peeped carefully around the bend of stone, holding a bit of torn off seaweed to cover the hole where his antennae protruded. The coast was clear. A starfish gazed dreamily out to the foaming waves crashing below, only a few minutes away. And there, directly across from Sheldon lay a perfectly roomy mollusk shell, its creamy colored interior gleamed in the shallow water.
As Sheldon neared it, another crab came meandering around the bend of the pool. Its gaze too lingered on the exemplary shell and its eye expanded with longing. Sheldon’s little heart squeezed with anxiety. He hoped, desperately, not to have to contend with this newcomer over the shell’s ownership.
So, he wandered over on tender hooks. The other crab looked him up and down, his antennae nodding, but what he really said, was no. Sheldon’s anxiety doubled. But, the sound of the ever-encraoching tide, prompted him forward.
“Excuse me.” He said to the other crab.
The crab turned to face him, confused.
“Yes?” he answered back.
“Well, I saw that shell a moment ago, and well, I thought….”
“You thought, what?” the crab asked. A note of derision crept in at the end like a grain of salt stuck between eyes.
“Well, I was here first.”
The crab blinked, adjusted his assumptions and politely asked, “Care to fight for it? I don’t mind. I just thought, maybe, you’d rather not.”
Sheldon looked himself over, comparing his size with the other crab. He’s much bigger than you, he thought, there’s no way you’d even stand a chance.
“No. No, that’s alright. You go ahead and have it.” Sheldon answered back. He turned around, stifling a deep desire to cry. How pathetic, he thought of himself before going back.
As he made his way, scuttling across the gravely sand, he saw another shell. Not quite big enough, he thought, but at least it’s size up from my last. This cheered him, mightily. And there was no one else around. A free shell, and I don’t even have to challenge someone for it. So he hooked the shell around and crawled in.
It was a little loose around Sheldon’s middle and he wriggled his fore-claws against the smooth lining. But once his things were stowed away inside, it might just be perfect. So he moved along to his tide pool and gathered up all the things he wanted to take with him.
He pulled out his comb and his sea glass, an empty urchin shell, his favorite stone, the barnacle scraper, a seaweed net and a great deal of food he’d saved up. It piled around his new shell, spilling in an untidy avalanche across his corner of the tide pool floor. Even with smart packing, he thought, I’ll never fit all this in. And the matter of where he would go also raised itself in his mind and bobbed there, nagging at his consciousness.
Sheldon began to worry. Just as he began to spiral down that riptide, an oyster piped up from down the way.
“You look a tad bit more concerned today Sheldon.” The oyster called. The oyster’s name was Steve.
“Hi, Steve.” Sheldon answered. “I wanted to get moving today.”
“Looks like you’ve got an awful lot. Why don’t you just stick around.” Steve inquired.
So Sheldon, in the midst of his upheaval took a moment to explain himself. He’d always like Steve. He was quiet, but always down for a chat.
“Yes, it is.” Sheldon sighed. If he was hoping for some advice, an oyster really wasn’t the one to get it from. Most of them are kind of shut-ins.
Sheldon looked up at the sky and sighed with frustration. The sunlight seemed to sweep across the surface of the pool. And then it did it again. Sheldon watched the miraculous regularity of the light across the water. Every other minute, the light would sweep across, before leaving Sheldon in the usual foggy day light. How strange! He’d never seen anything like it. So he popped his head up out of the water, keeping one antennae on his possessions down below and waited for the sun to do it again.
It did! The light swept across the foggy bay, illuminating the tops of the rocks before leaving once more. Sheldon gazed up and found the sun, right where it usually was, but covered in a dense layer of clouds today. The light seemed to come from a point a little ways away, but out across the bay, not up.
Once more the light swung around and Sheldon felt bathed in it, surrounded by a peaceful, wonderful feeling of safety. That’s where I want to go, Sheldon thought.