Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | January 9, 2009

The Lonely Sandbar

Art taken from a Magic: The Gathering card

Out in the wide, blue ocean where the whales love to sing, clouds stretched out lazily across the sky and the sun set on the glistening blue.

Resting in this wide, blue ocean, envying the clouds and adoring the sun, a single sandbar soaked up the last rays of daylight. She wasn’t big enough to be called an island, or small enough to sink down and rest on the bottom with the skeletons of old ships. She was just the right size to peek up above the waves and see the world float by.

And what a lonely world it was. Once the sandbar saw a whale pass by, sighing a song of lost love. Another time several sea turtles came almost close enough to touch, but not quite. Ships often passed in the distance, but they never noticed the thin aisle of sand.

Once it rained for three long days, and the sandbar wished she could be washed beneath the waves by the relentless drops. But as the clouds cleared, there she was. Still on the surface, still watching the clouds roll by.

Some time after the rain, as the sun beat down hot and bright, a flock of albatross wheeled overhead. The lonely sandbar wished that one, just one, of these regal giants would land and stay a while. But the birds had a long voyage ahead and no need to rest.

The sandbar didn’t sleep that night. Alone in the wide, blue ocean she counted the stars. So many stars, and yet not a single one would fall to Earth and keep the sandbar company.

The next morning the sandbar drifted off to rest, dreaming of falling stars and jumping dolphins playing together.

She slept so soundly she almost didn’t notice a soft scritch scritch on the sand. In fact, she thought this was just another dream. But when she awoke, what was there resting on the only bit of land in this circle of wide, blue ocean?

A young arctic tern.

Compared to the whales, the bird was no more than a mosquito. Next to the giant albatross, even, it was little more than an afterthought. Lowly and insignificant as a seagull.

But the sandbar loved him.

For a day and a night, the bird hopped back and forth across the sand, one wing held awkwardly at an angle, pecking for crabs or sand mites or anything else to eat. But there was nothing.

When the whales passed by, the sandbar heard a deep note in their song, a note that spoke of schools of fish in the distance. In fact, the sandbar could see the fishes’ gleaming bodies far off near the horizon.

Fish, little bird! The sandbar spoke. They were the first words she had ever uttered, and she made them in the language of the whales, deep and vibrant.

Hungry, hungry, hungry! The tern chirped. He no longer hopped, only sat dug in to a nest of sand. He could not fly. What good was a school of distant fish to a sand-bound bird?

That night, the sandbar felt something she had never felt before. She wasn’t lonely, no not at all. She loved the tern, but now she started to feel something both urgent and important. Something that sent her waters churning and the sand shaking around the injured bird.

In the depths of the ocean around her wide, wide base, the sandbar found what she was looking for. A conch shell.

Rise up! She spoke to the shell, unsure if it would listen. This was only the second sentence the sandbar ever spoke, and to her surprise, the shell tumbled in a sudden looping current from the ocean floor up and up and up to the top.

The tern woke up in the morning to find he was no longer alone on its deserted aisle. A gigantic, gleaming, white shell rested in the sand beside his nest.

A gift, said the sandbar. And when the bird settled into the shell, glad for some shade, the sandbar waited only a few moments. Her choice was made.

A sudden current tugged the tern off the sand, and sent it sailing in a conch shell boat toward the shoal of silver fish.

Goodbye, the sandbar whispered, and she was silent.

The tern reached the fish, and ate, and grew strong. When he flew off, he scanned the sea for the strip of sand that had saved his life.

Goodbye, friend! He called back in a thin voice almost lost among the waves of the wide, blue sea. But the sandbar heard, and knew she would never be lonely again.

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