Rocks at Gay Head Beach (aka Aquinnah)

On the windowsill, we collect rocks. Here is a sandy orange one, fist-sized. And see how this grey slate is striped with milky quartz. In the sun you can see the garnets that sprinkle this rock’s surface. Aren’t they pretty?

My parents made friends with a housepainter named Jim. One summer he painted our rooms the colors of sherbert, orangcicle and melon green, and afterwards my parents gave him a beer on the porch. Jim saw our rocks and invited us to Aquinnah, far past the families camped with their many chairs and the nudes camofouging into the orange clay. He told us that there was a point on the beach where the cliffs revealed their secrets, the rocks spilling out over the sand, spread by fresh water springs that trickled towards the ocean. Jim showed us how to spot the clam fossils, dark and heavy with petrification. My father found a shark tooth four inches long. The clams and the teeth were prized. We kept them on the bookshelf, next to the shiny captain’s clock.

Is it possible that my mother is right? She thinks that Jim sprinkled those fossils on the beach for us to find. She thinks he tricked us. They aren’t friends anymore. The fossils are still next to the captains clock, collecting dust. We still collect rocks, and line them up on the windowsills to bake in the sun.


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