I wrote this last night and fell fast asleep just before I could get it up here. I didn't know if it was actually done or not until I went to re-read it just now, and turns out I DID finish in time! I just fell asleep before I could post it. Not that it matters to anyone but me, since I don't count my own stories in the challenges... anyway! This is for the one that ended early this morning: Sand Palace. Enjoy!
I originally planned to make this a children's story, like a kid's book. I will have to go through and edit the phrasing and make sure the words are understandable for younger readers, and maybe do a little illustration... but I like the story! Anyway. Shutting up now. *nod*
It was a morning like any other. I woke spluttering, my perfect home flooded yet again. I ran out as fast as my eight legs could carry me and dove into the water, hoping I would not be sucked under with the sand yet again. When I was safe from the threat, I allowed myself to rise to the surface, knowing what I'd see: my lovely home being washed away grain by grain, yet again.
The tide always took my homes away with them. I knew it would happen. I couldn't help myself. Every day when the children came and built their castles in the sand and left them there when their parents dragged them away, I would take my pick of the lovely structures and settle in for the night.
Some of the buildings were certainly sturdier than others, and I tried to pick the best of the available spaces. I loved lying there, looking up at the stars and watching them pass slowly across the night sky. My parents had instilled a love of the cosmos in me from when I was just a tiny crab, barely old enough to go skittering across the sand. They'd loved walking on the beach at night, claw in claw, naming each constellation, and dreaming of the children they would have some day.
The stars scattered across the sky had been the inspiration for our names, in fact. My parents called me Orion and told me I was named for a warrior in the sky. My sister Lyra and brother Leo knew their sky signs too, but I always thought mine was the best of them all.
I watched my wonderful house be sucked back to the sea, and wondered if I was the only crab in the world trying to make a living up on land. Probably the only one trying to live in castles of sand, anyway.
The other crabs made fun of me, but I felt the way sand could dry, hard as stone, and knew if a house was built properly, it could make a suitable home. It just needed to be far enough away from the shore to stay out of the tide, but close enough to have the good fine sand that washed in every day, and easy access to the water for sculpting.
The big problem was the humans who liked to build with sand were usually children. Or adults working with children, who then allowed the children to make grievous errors in engineering. What I needed, I knew, was an adult with a plan.
As it happened, while I floated there and pondered this, trucks pulled in. I watched as huge blocks of sand were brought in and set up. Areas were marked off with rope, and crowds began to gather. I watched as long as I could, curiosity eating away at me. What was going on? Why were they bringing more sand here? They were ruining my beach!
Eventually it became too much and I went to find others to come watch with me and figure out the mess. Sebastian, the old crab who was like a grandfather to me, told me he'd seen something like this before. When he was a young crab, he enjoyed snacks the humans let fall into the sand, and he liked to sneak up on land and have his fill. One day big blocks like those arrived, and he watched as the humans spent hours working. When they were done, huge statues and scenes were left behind.
I thanked him for his wisdom, he grumbled and swam away, but my friends and I sat watching as the sun crept across the sky. Some of the humans made skyscrapers, domed buildings, and regular human houses like the ones built all along the beaches. Others made images of people, mermaids with fish heads and human legs, or carvings of ships at sea. But the one that drew my attention most of all was a sandcastle, nay, palace, at the end of the row.
It was the biggest structure like it that I'd ever seen. Towers all over, hundreds of tiny sculpted windows, and best of all, it was hollow inside. I could actually live there! I crept closer, watching, waiting, biding my time, and when the crowds dispersed, castle builder upset after losing the contest, I took the opportunity to run inside and take a look.
From the tallest tower I watched the sky grow dark and waited. The first star popped out, and I closed my eyes and wished with all my might, “Please let this one stay.” When I opened my eyes, I saw the rest of the stars pop into view. I had wished on the middle star in the warriors belt. My warrior's belt. I went to bed knowing it was a good sign.
The next morning, I woke to sounds of the waves lapping, and scrambled out of bed. I waited for them to crash down the walls, but there they stood. I walked up the tall tower and looked around carefully, sure that my new home would flood soon like all the rest. But it didn't. I looked out of the tower to the rest of the sculptures, and they all melted away into the sea. All of them but my castle.
That night I thanked the star in the middle of the warrior's belt, and it winked at me. I was reminded of a story my mother told me, how she asked the stars for what she wanted more than anything in her life, and how the stars had answered her.
I knew, then and there, my mother knew a truth. She knew, and she tried to tell me. The stars can give you what you want, she once said. She'd asked, after all, and the stars had given me to her. Once, I laughed at the idea. But now I knew too.