|Photo by Joshua Alfaro on Unsplash|
Ben Lambert stopped digging just long enough to swipe away the trickle of sweat headed for his eye with the back of his hand. Despite the gathering clouds, it was a sticky, hot day. Ben peeked over his shoulder and didn’t see anyone, but he knew he needed to hurry. Someone could come along any minute.
He started shoveling the sand again, as fast as his five-year old hands could go. He used his grandpa’s old garden shovel and the handle must have been a mile long. Ben tried choking up on it like his dad had showed him to do on a baseball bat, but it didn’t help. Twice as much sand shifted back into the hole with each scoop. Sand was heavier than it looked. Heavy and slippery. The shovel snagged again and again on the knotted roots of the overgrown marsh grass.
Maybe he should just use his old beach pail and shovel from last summer that he used to scoop up sand crabs that scurried along the waterline. His mom had brought the dented blue and white striped tin pail with its matching lemon yellow plastic shovel along, even though he told her he didn’t want it anymore. He would be six years old in three days. Too old to play with baby toys. She had told him he was too little to use Grandpa’s shovel, but he had been sure he could do it. Defeated, Ben let the monster shovel fall into the sand and rubbed his sore hands on the seat of his faded red swim trunks.
A sudden gust of wind ruffled his white blonde hair and made the sea grass bob and weave. More clouds had stacked up in the darkening sky above the cottonwood and cedar trees. These weren’t the friendly cotton ball clouds he liked to pick shapes out of with his mom. These were the color of bruises and looked fat with rain. Mean rain. Ben hated storms. Bad things happened during storms.