This was Simon’s year. He was going to win the sandcastle competition. He’d done hours of research (dating back to the ancient days of sand painting), perfecting his style (gothic probably) and technique (drip method, perhaps?). He could hardly sleep last night out of excitement. It was the fifth annual competition and he would emerge victorious. No more sad lumps of sand resembling lard. He was a big kid now. This year he would be the bad titan of the sandcastle industry, a mogul of sandcastle real estate, the King of the Sands of Time. (All working titles, since none of those fit onto the business cards he’d been working on.)

He was up before the sun before the earth began to warm, like a baker, ready for the first bread of the day.  He probably should’ve eaten breakfast. But who has time to grab a bowl of Wheaties when the beach is calling? After all, he only had 12 hours to complete his masterpiece (which isn’t much when one takes into account The Sistine Chapel, or even Rome).

Armed with his shovel and bucket, he marched from the front porch toward his battle with the elements. Tirelessly, Simon worked. The shouts and giggles of nearby people faded into the horizon. Simon shoveled and sculpted, building his empire higher and higher into the rays of the sun. He heard his mother call out to him to put on sunscreen. He could feel his back burning but Simon didn’t care. He would burn for the glory!

The boy imagined his castle would draw hundreds, no, thousands! The stuff of legends. The kind mermaids flock to see. The local paper would probably want a picture.

Hours later, Simon packed a final bucket of sand. He turned toward his castle, the grains of sand gloriously glistening in the sunlight. He stood proudly before it. Mothers women looked up from their romance novels, coeds halted their frisbee games, Fathers nearly lost their kites in the wind. The beach erupted in applause. Simon was the grand master. The Sand Wizard. And with an hour to spare! He stepped back, beaming, stretching his arms out as if a great curtain had been lifted in his unveiling. As he stepped further back, he felt a cold wave rush over his feet. It surprised him and he turned around, now face to face with a 20 foot wave, rolling in from the highest tide he’d ever seen.

Simon ran toward his castle, but the waves were fast. Like a kraken they consumed his castle in one gulp, then receded slowly back into the ocean, like a fat man waddles after a large meal.

Defeated, Simon retreated back to his house on the shore, his shovel dragging behind him. He slumped onto his front steps and buried his head in his sandy hands. Simon’s mother heard sniffling and came out to comfort him.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?”

“My castle,” sniffled Simon, “it’s ruined.”

“Oh, honey,” his mother cooed, “it’ll be okay.”

“No it won’t!” Simon yelled. “It won’t be okay! I worked so hard and I was going to win. It was amazing, mom. People cheered! There were towers and even little sand flags and it took me all day ALL day, mom! and now it’s gone. Washed away by that stupid ocean, I HATE the ocean!” He pounded his fist into the sand and glared out at the horizon.

“Oh, honey,” his mother said. “Didn’t you hear me call you? This was on our doorstep.”

She handed him an orange flyer.







Simon looked up at his mom. She smiled at him and patted his head. She chuckled as a grin appeared on his red face.

Today was the 16th.

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