The little one is watching Scooby Doo again; it’s the mummy episode. She sits on the bed behind him in a t-shirt painting her toenails, orange. There always seems to be cereal in this bed, odd brightly colored bits sprinkled in with the sand. The familiar voices of the cartoon sooth her nerves. Soon the old janitor will spin right out of his mummy disguise, and she’ll feign surprise, here in this bedroom just fifty yards or so from the pulsing ocean. There is a sense of exposure that comes with the salt air, she thinks, and the constant abrasion of sand. Her toes will need one more coat.
Her little boy dangles one foot over the edge of the bed, gazes at the screen, the confines of the television world loosely enfolding him like a blanket. She remembers the way she held him in the old aquarium the day before, up in front of her chest like a shield, concrete all around them. How the wide, soft brim of her straw hat plucked at his fine hair from time to time. Not one soul knows they have come here, to this greying house with its long porch along the dune and its frayed awnings ever flapping. In a small, round pool the manta rays, just babies, waved their silken wings playfully and brushed up against the palm of her hand at every pass. An elderly man wearing a badge slept in a fold-out lawn chair beside the pool, unaware.