Sea Urchin


I can smell my knees. I put my nose to them and lick one. It tastes of skin and sweat and falling over in classrooms. I start to pick a scab off, and then I remember I am with him. I mustn't do things like lick my knees or eat the dust off the bottom of my shoe. The wet sand is squelching in between my toes, spilling in from the flower stencils in my sandals.

"Look, there's a crab!" He says.

I lean further over the rock pool and watch the crab shuffle sand between it's pincers.

"I can hear it's claws going clickety, click," I say. He looks at me from under elastic lashes and sighs.

He swirls his small hand around in the water. "Watch how my fingers disturb the pool bed".

I like that he used the word "disturb'; it's so grown up. I hope he didn't see me sniffing and licking my knee. I put my hand in too and we both whirl the water faster and faster. I pretend this pool is the whole ocean and I have made a storm and my finger will shipwreck tiny boats.

I pick up a shell with a hole in it and hold it to my eye. "Smile" I say. I can only frame the left half of his face. A black iris, hazelnut skin and half a nose of freckles. "Snap, snap".

"You're silly," he says. "Come!" He races off ahead of me. I can't catch up. I see him getting smaller and smaller. I decide I will wait for him here in the belly of this sand dune. I lick my knees again. I curl up and dream of his bare feet tucked over mine, hunched over his sketch book. He is drawing a picture of a seahorse with a sad face.

"Who's that?" I ask
"It's you" he replies.

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