Low Tide This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 6, 2017
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I woke before the sun, when the lavender sky still slept soundly and the pale moon still wept her starry tears.

Soft sunlight filtered through my half-open window and my half-open eyes, decorating my dimly lit room with a welcoming glow. I could hear the distant faint lap of low tide, like a voice, beckoning me to the shore, to the ocean, my ocean.

My room was dark as I clambered out of my warm covers, tiptoeing barefoot over creaky wood towards the mirror. The careful breeze blowing through my window stirred my messy head of auburn hair as I braided it loosely, a few stray hairs falling into my face as I blinked the drowsiness from my eyes.

“As blue as the ocean,” my mother would say. She was asleep now in her room. I found a pair of jean-shorts that were a sullen navy in the pinkish sunlight, and a loose periwinkle t-shirt. I slipped them on, fastening the silver latch of my lucky necklace behind my head. A small black and white crab claw hung from silver chain, jagged pincers reaching for the dappled dawn light.

I snuck through the dark, small house, bumping against chairs and tables, tripping over piles of my mother’s books and making stumbling leaps over the seashells my mother and I collect. Every day, at 7:25 in the morning the sky is purple like Cowries, and the clouds are an orange red in the sky like Alphabet Cones, and the sea, out there, in the vast blue, is as silent as my mother and I as we search for its treasures.

I finally reached the front door, groping around for and twisting the handle. Wincing at the squeaks, I opened it. A comforting burst of cool air flowed through the crack in the door as I pushed it wider, and pale sunlight washed over the dark house like a wave at high tide. Our marine treasures shone like sea glass in the beautiful light.

I stepped backwards onto a prickly “WELCOME” mat, and I slowly closed the door. Through the small door window, I saw the house enveloped in darkness again, except for the pale square on the wooden floor with a girl’s silhouette outlined on it’s face.

Stepping into the gentle mauve glow, I felt the familiar squish of white sand under my yellow sandals. Trees clung to the soft, sandy soil as I walked among them. I could smell the mist from the ocean, my ocean, as I walked with the rising leaf-dappled dawn sun.

The gentle lap became steadily louder as I trekked closer to my beloved beach; I climbed up a sandy ridge dotted with crowsfoot grass, their jagged oats bobbing in the cool breeze.

I tottered on top of the mound of sand; my home, my mother, all left behind like a hermit crab’s outgrown shell as I gazed out onto the white sand beach. The low tide sparkled with a slightly pink morning glow, the calm blue of the ocean, my ocean, now a soft purple. Waves washed gently on a white sand beach, leaving seashells my mother and I wouldn’t find at 7:25 in the morning when the sky is purple and the clouds are an orange red. I slid down the ridge with sand gathering between my toes.

I shake my sandals and run to the ocean, my ocean; I was still a few yards away from the welcoming shore, stretching miles across as if it never ended, when something glittering caught my eye. I turned and saw tiny gleaming oceans in small rocky outcroppings in the white sand, far from low tide’s reach.

Tide pools.

I walked over to the nearest one and peered into the little pool, seeing my shaking reflection on the gently rippling, clear surface of the trapped seawater.

Clinging onto a rock was an orange sea star smaller than my hand, moving slowly over to some unlucky black mussels that were attached to the rock just next to it. In the clear water, I could see colorful gobies swimming through holes bored into the rock by greedy shipworms, some peeking back out with round black eyes as if they were surveying me. Purple and red anemones of all sizes sat exposed at the bottom of the pool, their many tentacles reaching for the rippling surface of the tide pool as I bent over them.

Before me, in a puddle between a few rocks, was an entire world. A whole little universe of life and death, where every creature was beautiful, where every creature was special, where all was peaceful, where the only threats were hungry orange starfish smaller than a twelve-year old girl’s hand, where a curious child could easily stumble upon them, far from the ocean, my ocean.

I sat on a wet rock next to the tide pool and dipped my toes into the cool seawater. Gobies darted away when my feet came near, scattering into their rock homes. One hovered near my foot like all fish did, then nipped it and swam quickly away.

I smiled and bent down over some small anemones, taking the fragment of a pen shell I found on a nearby rock and submerging my hand as well as the small seashell in the pool, leaving soft ripples in my wake. I poked one of the anemone’s waving tentacles softly and, with a tiny gush of bubbles, the little anemone retracted sharply into a pale lavender bulb.

I watched in awe as the other anemones followed suit. When the last of the bubbles made by the retracting anemones disappeared, the floor of the tide pool was covered with pink and lavender bulbs, like an abstract painting of the sky overhead as I looked up. The sun was but a promising yellow light in a sky of purple-red over the vast blue ocean, my ocean.

I laughed to myself as I noticed a starfish nestled on my leg. The little invertebrate loosened its grip slightly, and I pulled it gently off of my foot with the tide pool’s clear water rippling at my wrists. I took my hands out of the water and shook them, glittering arcs of water leaping from my fingertips and diving back into the tide pool. I then replaced my wet feet into my yellow sandals.

I bent over the tide pool, the gobies swimming out of their holes again. “Goodbye,” I whispered to the little world under me, standing and turning towards a smaller one nearby. It had a fat red anemone at the bottom on a rocky surface with ruby tentacles waving in the still seawater, as if trying to grab at my attention, but something next to it caught my eye as I bent closer. There were two crabs, one large and one small. The largest crab was a plain brown-orange and was as big as the anemone; the small crab was black and white, and it looked as if its claw could’ve attached to my lucky necklace.

I crouched over the tide pool; the two crabs were fighting, the bigger crab jabbing at the smaller crab with sharp claws and driving it towards the rocks. The black and white crab backed up helplessly towards the tide pool’s jagged stones, skittering sideways over the rocky sand. I reached into the cool shallow water to bring the little crab out, but the brown crab saw my fingers and pinched one with a jagged claw.

“Ah!” My hand jerked quickly out of the water, a small cut stinging on my index finger. I put it into my mouth and, not wanting to get cut again, only watched as the combat continued. I held my lucky necklace in my uninjured hand, praying that the little crab would claim victory.

The brown crab poked against the anemone, which immediately retracted, and, as if it were a cliche action movie villain, raised a claw to deliver a blow. Right as it did, the black and white crab raised one of my lucky claws and began fighting back.

I watched them in awe, my back to the rising red sun and the ocean, my ocean; then I heard a voice, as smooth as the surface of the tide pools, as comforting as the morning breeze.


It was my mother, calling my name. I looked up over the field of tide pools; they were disappearing. The tide was slowly and steadily rising, swallowing up the little worlds of water and stone. The sun was rising, and the sky was turning purple like Cowries and the clouds were turning orange red like Alphabet Cones. It was 7:25. I stood up with my finger still in my mouth. I could see my mother’s head just over the sandy ridge, her long brown hair tied in a bun and her face wearing a loving smile and eyes sparkling as blue as the ocean.

Our ocean.

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