Brooke twirled the straw in her finger and dipped it inside her milk shake every now and then. “So, you have to sell this house or it gets demolished?” she asked after her father finished explaining the reasons for his trip.
“Pretty much,” Arthur sighed, “it’s really hard to sell a house in this condition and repairing it will take time, time I cannot afford.”
“So, what’s the plan?”
“Ask around in town,” Arthur replied, “I know many people in Cannon Beach that might help me out with the selling process. Don’t get me wrong;” he added when he saw Brooke’s discomfort expression, “we are still going to spend some time together. I can postpone my meeting with Reverend Matthews until tomorrow so we can have a stroll in the beach.”
Brooke sat upright, “that won’t be necessary,” she said. “Take care of that today, I am sure I can have a great day alone. Besides, we can have our stroll any day. Summer has only just started.”
Arthur looked baffled and confused. “Its okay honey, I am sure we can make it today, unless you have other plans…” He cocked his head, pondering about his daughter’s secrecy. It was her first time in Cannon Beach; it was unlikely she would hang around with people her age.
Brooke debated whether or not to tell him about Alex; after all he had been the reason why Brooke returned to the house. “I just want some time to appreciate the beach… alone,” she lied, hoping her father couldn’t tell whether she was lying or telling the truth. How could he anyways? He wasn’t much present when they talked, most of their conversations were by phone.
“Like father like daughter, eh?” Arthur chuckled, taking Brooke’s hand and patting it. “Sure, go take your stroll in the beach; I guess I’ll see you tonight.”
“Thanks dad,” Brooke smiled at him.
The sand scurried underneath her feet, tickling her with its warmth and smooth texture. She had been walking along the beach for half an hour now, wondering where Alex was. She hoped that he meant his part of the deal and was not only a trick to make her return home.
“Waiting for someone, visitor?”
Brooke gave a little jump and hastily turned around. Alex was standing behind her with a white polo shirt and black slacks. She gave him a smile and crossed her arms, “yes, stranger. While waiting for that someone, why don’t you take me to a magical place?”
His eyebrow shot upward, this comment was clearly unexpected. “Sure, follow me.” He smiled. Brooke and he began walking down the beach; he made a comment now and then about the weather and the families in the beach. He also mentioned the houses being erected and the great tourist attraction they had had the last couple of years.
This morning, the beach was having low tide; the sand underneath them was smooth and moisture due to the washing of the shore by a high tide last night. In the distance, a great rocky structure caught Brooke’s eyes; she definitely recognized the enormous rock formation: the Haystack.
“Isn’t nature fascinating?” Alex asked as they approached the towering monolith. The Haystack is an intertidal structure, meaning it can be reached by land during low tides. In it, a great variety of intertidal animals exists and dwell in that place.
Brooke tilted her head upward, her hand ran along its rough surface. “It is,” she whispered, walking around the structure. The Haystack is usually accompanied by two smaller rocks called Sven and Lori. Nature definitely works in strange ways. There were some people having picnics around the area, it was a popular gathering.
“Once we had a family stuck in here because the tide grew very high and there was no way they could swim back to shore,” Alex said, “lucky for them, a boat was brought immediately and they were taken back to safety. If the boat hadn’t come in time, maybe they wouldn’t be enjoying the sun.”
Brooke turned to him, concern in her expression.
“Don’t worry, we won’t have high tide until after two days,” Alex held up his arms consolingly.
Brooke was at ease with his words and continued examining the rock. Alex was holding a camera, having been asked to help a family to take a couple of pictures of them. Brooke smiled at his generosity and continued to walk around the rock, shielding her view from them.
Some brilliant caught her eye as the sun struck in the surface of the rock. Driven by curiosity, she searched for the bright object. Encrusted in the rock, a shell in an array of green and blue colors was shining bright. Brooke stroked the shell with her finger, feeling its smooth surface and spiraling structure. It was a nautilus shell embedded in the rocks. She knew better not to mess with nature but a strong attraction toward the shell forced her to yank the shell from its niche. Bewildered by her discovery, she pocketed the shell and walked back to Alex.
Was it duty that had called her to take the nautilus shell with her? She was unsure about it; she felt pangs of guilt whenever she thought about displacing what nature took decades to create. She brushed the thought away.
“Ready for what Downtown has to offer?” Alex asked.
Brooke gave him a distant nod and followed him away from the beach. The sound of the waves was strong in Brooke’s ears and the shell seems to palpitate. But everything gets silenced when they were no longer in the beach.