The waves recede, the naked sand glistens with rocks, sticks, creatures. Some will not survive until the tide returns, some will not care. Down by the outcrop of cliff, ragged stone fingers casting spells toward the departing sea, spins a vortex in a tide pool which should be still. But for several minutes it drains down deep into a puncture in the earth, sucking and gurgling into a cavern of limestone underground where only one creature lives and has lived for a long time. Thousands of tides have cut the standing columns of green hued rock and carried polished stones and sea glass that look like eggs and treasure in a dragon’s lair. Bright sparkles of yellows, oranges, reds and the hissing of the black subterranean river, 20 feet below, attract the scavengers and gulls to the smooth lip of the hole, some plummet or skirt or fly or flop. Nothing that enters returns and the creature below feeds as it has fed for cycles and cycles of time and stares up with opal eyes at the small girl on her hands and knees looking down into its home, humming softly.

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