Catching a glimpse of bright color from within the damp beige-brown sand along the lakeshore, Isabel crouched and dug carefully with her fingers. Not glass. Plastic. A toy. A small pink troll with a silly grin plastered forever on its face. She wondered if the little girl who lost it cried over its loss or quickly forgot it in favor of other things.
What should she do with it? Rebury it and let some other kid have the fun of finding it? Maybe. But maybe the child would come back for it. She could leave it lie, but it seemed wrong to just toss it down as though it was garbage, when she wouldn’t even do that with garbage, so she decided to make the little thing a castle to help her be found.
How long had it been since she’d made a sand castle? These days, Isabel came to Presque Isle on Lake Erie not to swim, sun bathe, or build castles, but to walk along one of the beaches or trails. It was her escape. It let her head and soul unwind.
And often, it inspired a song, or at least a line or two of a song.
Today, it was not relaxing. It was not bringing words or music from anywhere within. She hadn’t found even a small bit of sea glass. Today, she got nothing but a troll.
So be it.
Tucking the thing into her pocket so it wouldn’t get lost again, Isabel dropped her sandals and moved closer to the water where the sand had more moisture. She had no bucket to haul wet sand or water up farther onto shore, so she chose a spot at the edge of where it was wet enough to work with but out of reach of the soft rolling waves.
It was slow going without a bucket. Still, she had all day if she wanted. No one was waiting on her. She had nowhere to be, since she’d run her errands the day before, always on Saturday to get it out of the way. Work was tomorrow. Today was her own. If she wanted to stay and build a sand castle, she could take as long as she needed.
Her shoulders felt the heat of the late midday sun and her legs felt the work of crouching, standing, bending by the time she had a decent castle made, complete with a turret to stand little pink troll on top of so she could look out in wait for her ... owner. At least it was only a piece of plastic. Replaceable. Unlike...
Telling herself not to go there, Isabel took the little troll from her pocket and gently nudged her into the sand of the turret, leaning against it for support, looking out. And then she changed her mind and turned it away. The little thing would be annoyed about being left behind, wouldn’t it? As though unimportant enough to be forgotten or misplaced? It should have its back turned.
With a deep sigh, Isabel took a few steps backward, pulled her phone from her bag, and snapped a photo of the troll in her castle with Lake Erie in the background. Maybe she’d post it to a local wanted and found page. Chances were good, though, that it would be taken by a different child by then, or the waves would come in and claim it.
Because she hated to see it with its back turned, Isabel went to fix it to look forward, as though hoping her original mom, original owner, would find her.
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