An older lady walking with a cane, and a young boy of about four strolled along the beach, following the line of shells and debris left by the retreating tide.
“Grandma, what’s this?” The boy picked up a round, flat shell, with a design that looked like a flower etched on the rounded top.
“It’s a sand dollar,” replied the grandmother. “When the little creature inside dies, it leaves its teeth behind. Their teeth are shaped like doves. If you shake it you can hear the doves inside, rattling around.”
“Real doves? Like the ones by our house?” He peered intently at it, turning it over in his chubby hands and then, holding it up to his ear, he shook it. He danced with excitement, his eyes bright. “I can hear them!”
They walked a while further and the boy bent down again, picking up another sand dollar. “This one is is broken. What happened to the doves? Did they fly to my yard back home?”
The grandmother chuckled. “Perhaps they did. Shall we open one and see if they’re the kind of doves that fly?”
“Okay. I’ll find one.” After a few moments of searching, the boy shouted, “I found it.” Quickly bending down, he picked up his find and held it out to his grandmother. “Can you open it now?”
“We’ll need a rock,” said Grandma. “Get me a good rock for pounding on things, about the size of your fist.”
Soon the two were bent over a driftwood log, with the sand dollar lying ready to be opened. “What should I do?”
“Give it a good whack. Not too hard, but just enough to crack it open.”
The boy shook his head. “I’m too strong. What if I smash it? I’m much stronger than you, so maybe you should whack it.”
Laughing again, Grandma complied. Soon the shell was opened and the little dove-shaped teeth were exposed.
The boy waited for a moment, then asked, “How come they aren’t flying away?”
Grandma thought for a moment. “Perhaps they only fly when we aren’t looking at them. Maybe we have to close our eyes and wish as hard as we can.”
The boy did so and after a moment Grandma said, “Look!”
His eyes flew open and he saw in the distance five white birds, flying away. “They did it! We let them loose! But they turned into seagulls.”
Grandma fingered the tiny bones in her pocket. “You’re right. Those were seagulls. Maybe they only turn into sea doves if we let them break out naturally.”
“Okay. We won’t hatch any more. I think there are enough seagulls on this beach right now. What we need are sea doves.”
Grandma agreed. The two walked on, stopping occasionally and examining the amazing finds left behind by the tide.
The Sea Doves, © Connie J. Jasperson 2016, All Rights Reserved