SECOND PLACE WINNER!Babs Mountjoy from Meadville, PA,
is a single mom of a daughter on the autism spectrum, a
multipublished novelist in both romance (as Alana Lorens) and
sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal (as Lyndi Alexander), a family law attorney
during the day, and a volunteer who makes patchwork blankets for
Project Linus, which donates homemade blankets to children in
hospitals and in other stressful situations so they have something
slither along the bottom sand
unseen in the murky ocean by night
instinct driving toward shore, tugging the wave’s bounty behind,
rush to dump the pile of rocks and shells
set the trap
then dig deep
Leslie James stretched between the cool sheets. The dream slipped away and reality settled in. She wasn’t at home. She was alone in a hotel room in Vero Beach, the ocean waiting across the sand. Alone. Jimmy had broken it off with her. Wanting to escape the emptiness in her heart, she’d jumped in her car and driven to the coast.
The memory burning, she got out of bed and took a quick shower, then pulled on cutoffs and a white tank top. Too cold to swim in February, but strolling on the beach, collecting shells, would soothe her. The ocean held treasure to start filling that hole in her heart.
Walking barefoot to the edge of the sidewalk, she slipped her feet into plastic sandals before heading to the water. Things turned up in the sand; bad things like used needles and broken glass and jellyfish. Better safe than sorry.
Pale-skinned mothers chased after rambunctious toddlers, trying to spray them with sunscreen. Teenage girls preened on their towels in mini-bikinis, attracting the
attention of young men on vacation. Leslie walked past them all, her gaze drawn to the scattered shells and sea glass near the water’s
Crouching down near an assortment of scallop shells and a few worn conchs, Leslie picked through them for something memorable. Nearby, a plump matron with a New York accent carried on loudly about a pair of missing children, taken from the beach earlier in the week.
You have to watch those kids every minute, Toni. The little bastards find trouble without even looking.” Her companion, a round-bellied young woman, nodded and chewed her gum, lazily flipping through a fashion magazine.
Leslie picked up one shell, discarding the rest as unworthy, and moved on.
Away from the hotel crowd, she nodded to the desiccated, tanned walkers who passed her, wearing light jackets and tennis shoes, the local residents who knew better than to actually go in the water in winter. The beach wasn’t the best place to be, true, but Leslie hadn’t planned. Instinct had spurred her to come here, to find peace.
huge gut clenches with need
every scale tuned to the tremble of the sands
a pause above, a shift in
inch slowly upward, jaw muscles twitch in readiness
the effort to drag the bait had nearly sapped all strength
but the reward … the reward …
A well-preserved olive
shell nearly four inches long caught Leslie’s eye. She knelt down to examine it. When she picked up the olive, she spotted a large piece of wave-polished blue glass.
An omen of good luck.
She reached across the pile of pretties for it, then felt the sand move beneath her. Clutching the glass in her hand, she struggled to stand but couldn’t get a firm foothold. The beach seemed to dissolve beneath her feet, and she slipped down, down, before she could even scream.
Flash Fiction 2015 Third Place Wimmer