The Beach - By Ian Duncan
Each is large enough and small enough to fit perfectly in my hand.

Sprouting from the entrance of each shell is a group of six or eight prickly legs. Curved like talons, these rusty red legs dig into the sand with each step, dragging the shell along.

The hermit crabs are magnificent.

Sitting on the deck of our hut for awhile we take time to relax. My boyfriend reads while I watch the crabs.

At the bottom of our steps is a tree. White paint covers its base. Part of the roots at the base of the tree are above the sand. The hermit crabs crawl inside the tangle of roots and they stop there. I watch them while they rest, wondering why they travelled so far just to sit under a tree.

I walk around the base trying to count them but new ones arrive and others crawl away, so I give up.


Accumulating lights on the horizon catch our attention. One by one the dots of light appear. It's the fishermen in their small wooden boats. They venture out at night, hunting for shrimp. Through the darkness and the murky water, the giant Pacific shrimp flock to the oil lamps of the fishermen. The amount of light increases quickly as other boats set out to sea. Soon, the lamps form a continuous line of yellow illumination along the water. It marks where the sky and the ocean connect.


Together we walk down the shore towards the water. Our toes sink into the wet sand. Our eyes are still fixed on the glow of the lamps.

It's low tide. By now the water has pulled back far enough to triple the width of the beach. We walk until we feel the wetness engulfing our feet. The low waves move erratically around our ankles.

Everything is barely visible away from the lights near the huts. The brightness of our bare skin, the crests of approaching waves, slowly appear as our eyes adjust to the darkness.

The wind rests. All is silent except the murmur of the gentle waves.


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