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Sanderling on the Shore - Gabriel Lacount.jpg

Sanderling on the Shore by Gabriel LaCount, online publication

Going Home

Someone knocks on the door and my eyelids struggle to open under the weight of sleep. I am two-years-old and really, this is probably the first memory of my short life. It is a man who speaks in a thick Caribbean accent. He has come to tell my parents something important, something they seem to have been waiting to hear. My dad turns on the light in the room. Even though it is a bare bulb, it is dim, as if it is losing its battle to keep out the dark.

Next thing I know we’re walking down on a dark, humid beach. Sand wedges between my toes. It is ground into the fabric of my pajamas. My little brother soils his footie pajamas as he waddles along, one thumb plugging his mouth and the other dragging a threadbare blankie behind him.

Living my toddler years in Trinidad I’ve been told was quite an experience. Sadly I don’t remember much of this tropical childhood; but one thing I do remember are the turtles. Mere weeks ago, leatherback turtles had congregated on beaches like this one to deposit their eggs.

Although I did not know it at the time, I was about to witness a miracle of nature.

It is a short vivid memory that seems to float up before me with little before it and little after. Suddenly, all I know is there is a little moving creature in my cupped hands. I peer down at its tiny dark shell, patterned with geometric figures. Its miniature coarse flippers, small and rough, and covered in grains of sand, rub against the palms of my hand, tickling them, and causing me to smile and giggle.

I am told that I am saving this turtle, helping it get home before anything can get in its way. Our group of turtle savers move towards the dark ocean. Fascinated by the little heart beating in my hands I stand there, with the cool waves lapping at my ankles, watching the turtle yearn for a home it has never been to.

When everyone else does, I lower my hands into the salty sea watching the tiny flippers reach the edge of my hands. Then I stand there with a smile in my soaking pajamas, as I watch my turtle swim away.

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