The Hatch

The steady breeze ruffled Beth's silvered hair, as she stared at the hatch on the pebbled beach. She was average height, with blue eyes. Her red-checked shirt and khaki shorts stretched over her padded form. Pelicans glided inches above the waves that crashed upon the shore. Seagulls begged for morsels of food lost from a tumbling potato chip bag. A few fishermen dotted the curving expanse of the ocean, casting for white fish in the early morning hour.

The pink sun, flushed and fresh from its slumber, peered over the horizon, casing a soft glow on the white, pointed barnacles carpeting the three-foot square hatch. Two rusted, metal handles curved on either side of the surface. Sand piled around the edges, making it appear set into the ground.

The hatch hadn't been there yesterday, Beth knew. She walked the beach every morning at dawn, her bare feet traversing the same path from her thatched cottage to the quay and back. She knew every fisherman by sight, could name the sandpipers daring in and out of the tide. This was her beach. The hatch was an incongruity of intrigue.

Beth approached the hatch cautiously, her heart rate picking up. Excitement warred with caution - she was too old for adventure, believed herself too young to let it pass her by. The breeze pressed against her back, seeming to urge her on. Dare she pull at the handles, to see what was underneath? Or was she being fanciful, transforming ocean trash into a gateway to treasure?

There was only one way to find out.