This comes from childhood memories of walking on the beaches of the Oregon coast. Many a sand dollar found its way into the treasures of the day. This story is simply fiction. I hope you will enjoy.
The shrill calls of the gulls were white noise blocking out the sounds of others around her. She walked down the seaweed littered shore her sandals in hand feeling the cold damp give of the sand beneath her feet.
A record that I am here she thought. Then laughed at the knowledge of waves that would soon wipe her steps away. The smooth white edge of a sand dollar caught her eye. Reaching down to brush off the gritty sand she didn’t notice the little girl watching nearby.
“Watcha find, lady?” She asked. The woman raised her eyes to see the child, feet turned inward with big toes playing a game of which will be on top. The sand coating her legs up to the edge of her knees told the tale of the little girls treasure hunts. Her hands clutched a lumpy towel giving witness to some level of success.
The woman held the perfect sand dollar out to the girl.
“You know there are birds in there, don’t ya?” offered the girl. “If you open it they can fly away.”
The woman smiled, “Well, would you like me to let them fly away?”
The girl looked at the sand dollar and up at the sky. “Nope. Too many gulls. The birds are so small the gulls would eat em like flies. You keep em. Sometimes we need times to fly away. You never know when yours’ll come.”
The woman took a closer look at the girl. Her one piece suit showed the wear of many washings. The dark patch might just be the shadow of her tangled hair hiding her face from the sun. What was this little girls story? Why hadn’t she noticed her as she walked along the beach, but then, she had been lost in thought after all.
“Are you here alone?” The woman found herself asking. “Shouldn’t you be heading back to your family?”
The little girl smiled. “You are my family. Don’t you remember?”
The woman sat back quickly her eyebrows lifting in surprised. Her children were grown and she had surely not seen this child before.
“I… I am sorry, but you have to be mistaken,” she stammered. “I haven’t seen you before.”
“Close your eyes,” was the child enigmatic response. “Maybe that will help you remember.”
The woman was not above a game with a child so playing along she shut her eyes.
“Feel the sand,” said the child, “Rub the edges of the dollar.”
The woman felt something stir inside as the worn edge of the sand dollar rolled beneath her fingers. There was a time long ago when ….
She opened her eyes with a start and stared at the little girl. She knew that suit. She knew that towel. She knew the darkness wasn’t the shadow of her tangled hair. The child she looked at was herself long ago, the time she had wanted to fly away.
“Sometimes we need times to fly away. You never know when yours’ll come.” Repeated the child as she slowly began to fade. “You’ll never know when yours’ll come.”
The woman sat for a long time rubbing the edge of the dollar and remembering. When she finally stood there was a new light in her eyes. She had remembered and now, it was time to let that learning take flight. There was a time to finally let go.
Clutching the sand dollar in her hands she walked back the way she had come. It was time to let the child in her be free. It was time to find her way to a safe place to be. It was time to stop repeating the past.
In her mind’s eye she opened the sand dollar and watched a 1000 doves fly up into the sky.