This is the hermit crab, forcibly transplanted to the sand castle the children built for him. The castle consists of one central tower, its balcony lined with seaweed. Its windows are shuttered in flat, cupped shells. An outer wall encircles the whole structure, each of its four watchtowers dotted with spiraled periwinkles. Splinters of driftwood gate the grand entrance at the front.
This crab is angry, scuttling around in his shell painted like a soccer ball. Rage infuses his posture, the angles of his one big claw and one little claw, the violent jags he tracks in the sand. This castle is not temperature-controlled. This castle does not have a dish of filtered water. This castle does not include a wardrobe of colored shells. This castle is not the lifestyle to which this crab has become accustomed.
But this crab, he notices the view through the shell-shuttered windows: the curl of ruffled waves gone coral and tangerine as the sun sinks behind the dunes. He considers a draw bridge, tapestries here and there, a breakfast nook. He estimates the going rate of chandeliers. He calculates real estate values.
This crab does not yet realize that he has been left behind by the children, by the parents who foolishly allowed the children to bring him and who did not notice when they took him from his sufficiently ventilated traveling case which now sits empty in the back seat, cooled by AC and rocked by the movement of the car.
The castle is warm and still. This crab, he tours. Measures floor space. Sketches lay-outs. Peruses catalogs. The walls begin to dry, and chunks of sand crack and sift off. Beyond, the tide creeps in.
The crab thinks, “Ah, a fixer-upper.” He begins the repairs.
KELSIE HAHN holds an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, 1/25, NANO Fiction, SpringGun, and others. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband, Stephen Cleboski.