Over and Over Again Until We Get It Right


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Cam shivered, snorted, and sneezed.  Small droplets of salt water sprayed from her nose.  She scratched her damp skin and knelt down in the sand. Even here, on the shore it was parched, bone dry. The ground, split into deep cracks beyond the dunes burned her bare feet. She’d rather stay here, near the sea.

She’d rather stay on the beach and bake in the sun, looking for stray fish that washed up with the foam and dig for clams; anything to fill her empty belly.  “Cam stop playing with your doll,” Father had yelled, ”Come quickly before someone else eats up your share.”   Hungrily she remembered her last meal—bread, promean, and greens— on the boat before the storm.

They’d been singing, loudly chanting and calling to appease the thunder, lightening and wind.   It made no difference. The dark gray skies, heavy clouds, thick air descended, waves grew larger and the boat sank lower into the Atlantic. 

She felt the urge again, the need to draw a message in the sand; the circle and the line plus the two lines and the single line on each end; almost like a duty, a habit she couldn’t shake.

            Gone how many sunrises? She crawled further away from the rising tide, to sleep.

            Five hundred yards away Dil picked up a stick. If he only had a string, hook, and bait like the grown-ups.  He tried to pull out a thread from his shirt but the fabric was too fine.  “Cover up,” his mother said, “Keep your skin covered from the sun.” It was no use. He had few clothes, only the items in his pack.

         He took the stick and drew. It was always the same; the circle, the line plus the two lines on the ends and the single short lines at the base.  He drew the picture over and over again.  The tiny granules of sand and pebbles glistened and reflected rainbow colors; blue, green, red, yellow orange like the story Mother had read him long ago.  He trembled and his feet twitched. It was easy to draw in wet sand but the drawings quickly vanished.  He swallowed hard to try to flatten the lump in his throat and coughed. One precious sip of water remained in his thermos. He moved to higher ground.

            Bo tried to use rocks as shelter. Their dark color created shade and shade was a good thing; he’d heard the adults say.  A small cave was a good place to rest when the tide was low, but when the water was high he explored to dig for anything with green roots to suck.  But first he drew deep in the sand with his index finger: the circle, the line plus the four lines.  Inside the large circle he put two dots, a short line and a semi circle.  Bo gritted his teeth, cracks formed on the surface of his dry mouth but his stick man had a smile.  There had to be others.

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