Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Someone's toy

Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2007

When I go to the beach, I try to stay away from the crowds. I'm much happier walking a little further and finding a relatively open stretch of undisturbed sand. So as I slowly ambled further away from the maddening crowds, I came across this forlorn beach toy, long abandoned by an unknown child.

I figured it, like every other piece of garbage in this transitional place, had a story, a history. I wondered if the child who lost it even knew it was gone, if he/she was upset, if mom/dad/caregiver helped ease the pain with a scoop of ice cream and some soothing words - or a dismissive comment.

It's often said there are a million stories in the big city. I guess the same thing applies to this forgotten stretch of sand as well.

Your turn: Who lost this? Feel free to tell its story.


carli said...

That's MY knife! I lost it in 1980 off the coast of Staten Island. Please go back to Florida and retrieve it for me.

Roth Family Adventures said...

That brings back a memory from my childhood. I was about three years old (30 years ago). We were at Huntington Beach, CA and my twin brother buried my wire gumby figure, never to be found. I always wonder if it's wire skeletal remains are still buried somewhere on the shore.

spwriter said...

[You wanted a story? You got one. Sorry it's so long, but I am in my effusive mode. And this is not the whole story of the toy, just one chapter.]

Becky stood at the water’s edge, staring out across the twilight ocean. Wind whipped a salty spray onto her face, washing away saltier tears, but it could not wash away the heartbreak. She wanted to forget, to toss the mistakes and aches into the ocean and let the riptide carry them into oblivion. But all she could do was remember, feel.

Then, for the first time in her life, she stopped thinking altogether. She took one step into the water. Then another. She could feel the pull of the tide against her ankles. Her shins. Her hips.

She turned to say goodbye, and that’s when she saw it. A glimmer of moonlight reflecting back from something partially buried in the sand. This was a moment of decision. A monumental moment, though she would never know how monumental. One step deeper and the ocean would have taken her.

Instead, she fought her way back to the shore, drawn toward the object like a moth to flame. She had to see. She had to know what this strange beacon was that called to her.

It was a plastic shovel. Nothing more than a discarded child’s toy. She tugged at it, lifted it, watched the sand waterfall to the ground as she held it in the moonlight.

Some might have required a different sign. A treasure chest. A wallet full of cash. Even a lost shoe. But this child’s toy? God himself couldn’t have chosen better.

Becky shivered, not from the cool night air, but from the thought of what she’d nearly done.

“I’ll need one of these someday,” she said aloud. She placed her left hand on her growing belly. “We’re going to need one of these someday.”

“But not this one,” she said, stuffing it back into the sand. “Someone else might need this one.”

She offered a silent thank-you to the faceless child who had left the shovel behind and the God who’d aimed the spotlight moon, then climbed up the embankment to her car. The mistakes and aches trailed behind her, she knew she wouldn’t be able to shake them. But she also knew something else: she wouldn’t let them defeat her.

As she stepped over the wooden fence, the tide washed away Becky’s footprints.

And the whitecaps winked.

Anna said...

I am not sure how to go after spwriter...that was great! I love the pic. Who knows how many toys I have left in various places on this Earth with three kids....nice Carmi.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I haven't got a clue! LOL! In fact, I don't even know what this toy is. It is always kind of sad to see a forlorn toy lying in the sand....!

michelle said...

wonderful photograph, but it looks like my son's! Do you know how much money I have spent on lost toys? lol.
michele sent me

archshrk said...

I never lost anything at the beach myself (because we never went) but I have since see many a lost toy left behind in the sand.

I wonder if it was lost, then found and used, only to be lost again.

Would you let your kids play with it if they found it?

Roland said...

Michele sent me to consider lost toys in sand & other places. After reading spwriter's saga, I can't begin to compete. Though it is an interesting thought on a rainy- soon to be icy afternoon here in Virginia.


Some parents never realize that a child may remember a dismissive comment forever. The dropped sand shovel made me think of the feelings that children learn to drop/suppress. I know that's a deep thought for a dropped sand shovel photo...but that is how my thoughts went. Michele sent me.

Spwriter...I love the story. You should put it up on your blog. :-)

David said...

i think I lost that in 1967. looks just like mine

Pru said...

That toy belonged to a four year old named Ethel Mae. She left in there when the UFO picked her up. There is no sand on Ouixinon...only magic.