The boy wades into the water at sunset, smiling as the waves splash against his small body and split in two. It is a comfort, watching some small part of the world acknowledge him. Back on shore, his parents may have their phones so close to their faces that the screens think Mom and Dad’s noses are trying to say something. But here, here in the water, all of the universe seems to be paying attention.
Half of his body is light, the other dark. He shifts his body back and forth in the water to see if he can light up all of it at once. But before he can complete the experiment, his eyes are drawn again to the water, where he is no longer just a thing which the waves crash against, but a maker of waves himself.
He laughs straight from his belly, a most joyful noise that ends only when his mother screams for him in her shrill voice, waving her arms in admonishment instead of coming out to get him, because heaven forbid she should get her phone wet.
As he starts back toward her, just before he settles into a slouched amble, he sees her glance back down at her screen. He thinks about splashing her, but knows he won’t. Knows he can’t. She’ll never bring him back here if he does. And he has to come back. He just has to. Out here, he matters. Out here, the water tells him so. The sun, too.
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