The vacation was perfect. More than they could have ever asked for. On their last day on the island, Travis and Val decided to swim in the shallow bay again and look for more sea stars and horseshoe crabs.
“Look at this one,” Val shouted, showing Travis the large star.
“That one’s amazing,” he said, grabbing his camera, “let me get a good shot.”
Val posed and laughed. The sea star didn’t find it very enjoyable, and hurried away from the monster as she set it back on the sand.
Travis found a small crab but nothing that drew caught his eye until Val pointed to a dark patch in the shallow. “Why’s it so dark over there? Where’s the shadow coming from?”
They both looked into the cloudless sky and shrugged. Suddenly the beach and shallows were eerily quiet but Val and Travis only giggled as they waded over to satisfy their curiosity.
“Wow,” Val said, “look at this sea star.” She held up the large, solid black star with both hands so that Travis could take the picture.
As the automatic flash filled the shadow with light, the sea star’s eye opened.
Police investigators retrieved three more photographs from Travis’s recovered camera. The three officers shook their head. “Stupid tourists,” one said. “They’ll never learn to read the signs,” another said. The lead investigator closed the file and placed it with the others.
Mary’s mother looked a little more frazzled than usual when she arrived home from school, but from the looks of the kitchen, it had been a busy day of baking cherry or strawberry pies. Mary donned her apron and helped her mother clean up and finish preparing the side dishes for that night’s supper.
Mary kept glancing toward the stairs and the clock. “Isn’t Dad coming down to read the paper before supper?”
“Hmm,” her mother said, “he’ll be done soon.” She looked at the kitchen timer and smiled.
“Dad must have had a hard day at work to take this long of a nap.”
“Oh, yes, he had a rough day. Everyone wanted a piece of him.”
The phone rang and Mary got there before her mother. She smiled and nodded, said goodbye, and hung up the phone. “Grandma said thanks for supper and it was delicious.”
“Oh? That’s wonderful. I thought it might have been a little tough.”
Mary and her mother busied themselves in the kitchen and the phone rang three more times; each time a family member left messages of gratitude for her mother and the wonderful meal she gave them. Finally, at five o’clock, Mary dusted off her hands and took off her apron. “I’m going to go check on Daddy.”
Her mother watched her leave, then opened the oven door, took a deep breath of the savory aroma, and smiled. “He’s doing just fine.”