A glass bottle was bobbing in the water near the shore. Inside, there was a rolled up piece of paper. Isaac fished the bottle out of the water and unscrewed the cap. He tried to pour the paper out.
Unfortunately, the neck of the bottle was narrow, but the rest of the bottle was much wider. The paper had unrolled itself enough to fill the wider part of the bottle. Isaac could only fit a finger in to the narrow neck. He could poke the paper, but he couldn’t get it out.
He walked out of the water and onto the beach. Maybe he could find some rocks and smash it open. He looked around. The beach was composed of sand, and beach grass, and bits of driftwood. Further away, it looked like there were some trees.
Isaac started to walk towards the trees, but they didn’t seem to be getting any closer. He knelt down and checked the sand. There wasn’t a hidden treadmill or any quicksand.
He tried walking forward once again, but he still wasn’t going anywhere. This wasn’t working. Maybe he could walk along the shore and find a path or a more agreeable patch of sand.
And so, he walked along the shore, but he wasn’t really sure if he was getting anywhere new or not. Finally, he reached some tide pools. Isaac was relieved that he wasn’t going to be stuck on the same stretch of beach forever.
He crouched down and looked into one of the tide pools. Some sea anemones clung to the edges of a rocky basin. There were a few brightly colored starfish, and a hermit crab peeked around a rock. “Hello,” Isaac said. “Can you talk?”
“Of course we can talk,” a purple starfish said. “If we feel like it.”
“I don’t feel like talking at all,” a pink anemone said.
The starfish laughed. “You just did.”
The anemone waved its tentacles. “I did not.”
“Did not. I’d know if I talked or not, and I said nothing.”
“You’re still talking.”
The sea anemone reached its tentacles towards the starfish. “Why don’t you come over here and say that.”
The starfish laughed.
Isaac looked at the rock the hermit crab was hiding behind. “Could I borrow that rock? I’ll give it right back.”
“No.” The hermit crab snapped his claws at Isaac. “That’s my rock.”
“But you’re not using it,” Isaac said.
“It would just take a second. Besides, you’re a hermit crab. You should know all about borrowing things,” Isaac said.
The hermit crab growled. “What are you trying to say? What’s mine is mine.”
Isaac frowned. “But you just find things and take them. Just like I just found that rock.”
“Find your own. This one’s mine.” The crab snapped his claws at Isaac. “If you take my rock, I’ll pinch you.”
Isaac looked around. There didn’t seem to be any loose rocks outside the pools. “I guess I could go look into the other tide pools.”
“You do that.” The crab snapped his claws a few more times and the starfish laughed again.
Isaac checked the other pools. He found sea anemones and starfish, crabs and little fish, even some little mussels. Finally, he found a big rock, covered in barnacles, but unguarded by hermit crabs.
He reached for the rock, but the barnacles squealed. “Leave us alone,” one of them said. “Find your own home somewhere else. This one’s taken.”
Isaac stood up again and looked around. That was the last tide pool. Maybe there would be more rocks further down the beach. He held tightly to the mysterious bottle, and started to walk along the shore again.