Rope By Rob Essley

April 2, 2015 Comments Off on Rope By Rob Essley

A rope as big around as my wrist lies there on the sand like a dead snake. One end turns down beneath the surface, and no matter how hard I pull, the beach won’t open its mouth and let me have it. I start to dig, first with my fingers then futilely with my blue plastic castle-making shovel. Forever I hack away, flinging sand all over, grunting, cussing. I wonder at the frayed end of the rope, bits of sand in its pale fibers like food in my grandfather’s beard. I must dig faster. Dig!

The sand on top slips and flows and burns my hands, but after a foot down, becomes cool and hard-packed and I have to scrape out the sand from around the rope with my fingers, then scoop it up with the shovel. I remove a pitiful amount at a time, seeming to make almost no progress toward the inevitable, glorious thing that the rope has to be tied to. Perhaps it’s tied to a long-sunken pirate schooner, replete with skeletons in tattered clothing, and doubloons. I’ll be a hero. Perhaps it’s tied to a barnacle-encrusted anchor the size of a man, worth its weight in artifact-quality iron. They’ll probably put my gap-toothed grinning face on all the newspapers.

Dad sits beneath the umbrella, oblivious to my agonizing efforts, ogling the bikinis frolicking a peeps-worthy distance to the south while Mom reads her book from a towel in the sun. They have no idea the stakes of this discovery. They ignore me and I hope they’ll forget and leave me here overnight so I can set sail in my new-found craft around daybreak. Maybe head south.

I dig with urgency, removing teaspoons, tablespoons of sand and depositing them in my spoils pile. Now and then, amid the roaring of the tide, a seagull screams at me. One alights nearby, walks bob-headedly through my work zone, then scurries off to cackle with its friends. The waves continue to crash and splash and reach for me, but I’m too far up the shore.

My cracked shovel assails the sand for hours, but still no anchor. Assured of my fortune, confident in luck, knee-deep in sand, I ignore my mother’s call from up the beach. Just as I know I’m about to break through to the cavernous gallery below, and claim my wondrous new life, she picks me up by my arms and my shovel falls softly to the sand. Exhausted, I slump over her shoulder as she carries me to the car. Before we get too far away, I think I see the beach suck the rope up like a spaghetti noodle, belching seagulls toward the hazy sunset. The pulsing roar of the tide fades as Mom whispers in my ear, “We’ll come back next year, boy. Maybe then you can find your treasure.” I smile, close my eyes, and sleep the whole way home.

© 2014 Rob Essley

Rob Essley is a wannabe and a ne’erdowell from Wyoming. He lives in Georgia and writes stories about things he wishes were real. His work has been published at and

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