Castles in the Sand

Another piece written to close a chapter. It, too, will never get used.

The sand was warm between my toes (I dreamt) as I picked my way among broken shells to the smooth, open piece of yellow sand I'd chosen. I knelt there with my bucket and shovel, and began to construct my castle. I shored up walls in a rectangle, and molded the towers at the four corners with the bucket. I heaped up sand and shaped it into a rough block to make the center building, and set a gate of gleaming mother-of-pearl in front. My moat was a failure, however, and merely became a damp ditch.

Finally, I looked up, sweeping my hair out of my eyes with my (less sandy) wrist. There were many other people on the beach, also building castles. I got up, satisfied with my own endeavor, and went to see what they were doing.

First I met a little girl who was turning a heap of beautiful, rounded stones into a tall wall, with wet sand as mortar. I admired the masonry, but asked, "What's in the middle?"

She looked up at me and said, "Me."

I walked on and met a little boy who was trying to do what she had done, but didn't know to use sand as mortar. I looked at his untidy cairn and said, "You need something to stick them together."

He looked up at me and said, "Never mind, it can be my grave."

I ran further down the beach and met a little boy and a little girl. Every time the boy built a wall, the girl kicked it down. I asked her, "Why are you kicking his castle down?"

She scowled at me and said, "Because he should be paying attention to me."

I went farther, and found a little girl building a castle much like mine, except that there was something that was sometimes a little boy and sometimes a seagull, floating on the breeze above it. He dropped mussels and clams and rocks onto the castle, breaking down parts of it or leaving little craters around it. She kept making her walls thicker and thicker, trying to resist the bombardment. I asked, "Why don't you throw something at it and make it fly away?"

She looked at me, looked at it, and then smashed her castle with both her fists. She leaped into the air, sprouted wings, and said, "Because it's easier for me to fly away myself."

I ran on by the thing in the air and came upon Anthy or a little girl that looked like Anthy patiently putting together, brick by tiny brick, a sand castle hanging upside-down in the air. I said, "Why are you building it like that?"

She paused and considered a moment. Then she said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."