What my baby made
by derrick salas
It was summer, hot and crisp, ideal like a thousand summers before. The surf crept up over the sand, splashed against the waiting shore, then reseeded back. It was easy, watching the way the ocean moved. The sun did not bother to interfere it stand liquid on top of the water. The air was clean and warm, it moved softly along the stand, whipped up from the sea with the waves, it tasted like salt. The beach was quiet. Scattered all across the sand there where children, families with pack lunches and umbrellas. But it was quiet, getting close to quitting time. All along the beach hot dog carts, and ice cream trucks where packing up and starting home. Summer was winding to a close, these last days where precious, perfect.
There was a child in the sand, set apart from the other families, working, shaping, moving the earth with her fingers. Her mother was sleeping, or close to it. She could hear her daughter speaking to her, almost frantic with excitement. She pulled off her sunglasses and gave her a look, tired to look motherly like she always does, but just came off looking angry, and glared instead. It was Saturday damn it.
“Mom, okay, just stay like that alright? No keep the sunglasses off. Mom I’m almost done she smile a little.”
The child shaped the sand. Filled out her smile, cupped her breast with her hands to strengthen the sand. The body was finished, the face was taught and lovely, just like her mothers, just like her mothers. She added some sand to the hair, made it longer and more of it. Just like her moms, it was the spitting image.
Her mother, she thought as she looked down at her creation, was beautiful. Her body was soft, just the sand, just the surf, and the sun. Her mother reflected the beach. She was beautiful, perfect in her daughter’s eyes. She ran her finger over her sand face and smiled. On the sand, next to her mother’s thigh she scrawled her name, quick and sloppy like a child would, nothing like the sculpted flesh of her mother, her sand mother.
Laying on her blanket her real mother noticed the sunlight on her face; she shook the hair from her eyes, and looked at her watch. It was time to leave. She rose to her knees, and stretched her arms high over her head. The beach was near empty. Only a few families remained. She flopped back down on the blanket and closed her eyes behind her sunglasses.
“Baby, where are you? We need to hit it.” Baby didn’t say anything; she was in the water, trying to fight the ocean backwards to save her mother. There was a fence of seashells and Popsicle sticks around her creation. It was the best she could do. It kept her safe. She dunked below the water, swam to the shore and flopped down on the sand. It covered her. It was beautiful.
The waves tickled her feet, washed away the sand. She went back to admire her mother. For one last look at her masterwork. She could see her real mother now, packing up lunch, wrapped up in her towel like a skirt. She loved her mother so much. She did a little hop and through some sand in the air.
“Baby, hurry up, it’s time to go.” Her mother started walking to her, stomping like she does.
“Mom, watch out, you’ll step on her.” She looked down at her feet, seeing the lumps of sand, and forced a smile.
“So what’s this one’s name?”
She saw no resemblance between the sand and her. It freaked her out, what her baby did. She would find stash of paper around the house, stories talking about these a girl her age shouldn’t know. Monster and Martians. Her teachers noticed this too, wrote her up for doodling in class. Why couldn’t she just have a normal kid?
“I don’t know, Jane, I think.”
“Okay baby, well we have to go. So get your stuff and get in the car.”
“What stuff?” Then she ran up the beach toward the car, her arm flung out behind her. What stuff? Man. Her mother looked down at the sand again. She didn’t like it; she didn’t like anything baby made. She forgot about it and walked to the car, in the morning it would be Sunday. Lousy Sunday, she tired to smile, but it wasn’t anything. Her baby was in the car, sprawled out over the seat, asleep. It wasn’t anything.