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two friends trudge along wet, heavy sand, sticky fingers intertwined

communication between the two sound like the clicks, tweets and rumbles of less civilized animals

almost identical sturdy little girl legs extend beneath the hem of a pair of shorts---one red, the other yellow

the backs of which expand from the padding of their swim pants

little sausage toes sticky with wet sand, encased in grubby white sandals reach from the legs of yellow shorts

red shorts wears blue denim tennies with once-upon-a-time white laces trailing behind, nibs chewed by both

yellow shorts snub little nose wears a smear of chocolate

red shorts cherry-colored lips sports a mole-like dab of that same chocolate near one corner

reaching over, red shorts uses the tiny pointer finger of her left hand to paint the chocolate into a design only she understands

yellow shorts stands patiently letting her

afterwards the clicks, tweets and rumbles resume


one likes to rub sand in the spaces between her toes

the other one is allowed to do so too, but never another place

red shorts curly red hair refuses to be subdued by her white butterfly barrettes

yellow shorts curly black hair frames her face

both like to dance on their toes, seeing who can last the longest---although neither ever keeps track


back and forth they go crisscrossing the wet sand that now covers them from toe to head

they stop to examine a starfish

all pointy limbs and crusty-bodied

no one needs to tell them to take care

to not touch

that as tiny and delicate as their hands are that they can carry death in them

next a creamy pink shell catches their attention

it is picked up, held to one’s left ear, the other’s right

lastly a smooth warm black stone is ceremoniously placed on red shorts tongue

its sea saltiness is savored and remembered years later when during her seventeenth summer she kisses a boy working as a lifeguard at their local beach

the stone is removed and placed in yellow shorts’ mouth

she too will remember this moment, but will have forgotten its essence

“Come on girls. It’s time to go home,” their mothers call

upon hearing this, yellow shorts slips the stone from her mouth into her pocket and takes her friend’s hand for their final trip down the beach