Kendal Delaney

Commendation, 2017


Excerpt from 'Kept from the Sea'

His shorts were wet with the salt water he had splashed out of the rock pools. A little unsteady, he straightened, turned and waved to his mother sitting on the beach behind him. Her skirt spread around her; the blue striking against the sand.

As he clambered over the next barnacle-covered rock, one sandaled foot slipped into the rock pool beneath, startling a shrimp who had been loitering in the shallower water.

He glared at the seaweed which had caused the trouble. Slimy and glistening, slug-like, it clung tenaciously to his calf, bandaging this latest scrape. Lip curled in disgust, he picked it off between forefinger and thumb and hurled it with determined effort at his sister, two rock pools behind.

Although it landed far short of her, he was satisfied by her squeal of surprise and disdain, his mouth tugging up at the corner in what his mother called his crooked smile.

He turned his attentions back to the pool; one foot still submerged. The shrimp had disappeared entirely but there was still much to look at: the rippling, undulating sea anemones; the cast-off shells of long-eaten creatures; tiny crabs with backs speckled like his marbling paper. The anemones were his favourite and he leaned in towards the largest. Its jellied flesh wonderful itself but the greatest joy came from hovering a finger above the flickering tentacles. Instantly pulling in its prey, the anemone grabbed the pad of the boy’s finger. Wide-eyed, delighted, the boy pulled back his hand, ripping away from the many-fanged maw.