Here I Am

By Caroline Sutton

June 20, 2022

Here I Am

Two-year-old Ella takes a stick and draws zigzags in the sand. She asks me to write her name; I say each letter aloud and she knows that these are the marks that make words that make the stories we read to her, which she inhabits and commits to memory. I have shown her footprints, hers and mine and a seagull’s and a dog’s. I wave at our shadows. She seems to accept evenly these parts of us in the sand, be it mimesis or the scratching of a carefree hand or the record of a sprint to the water—the insubstantiality of shadow having no greater or lesser weight than letters written in bold caps. I think she feels affirmation or happy confusion in these connections, which are not quite understood. We make sandcastles and decorate them with jingle shells and red seaweed. She eyes me with a sparkle and sticks her finger in the side, cracks it, closes her fist and crushes the walls, relishing her power. Toying with the disappearance of things, she hides herself in full view, peeking through her fingers as I glance through dune grass and along the horizon until my gaze alights on her. She beams, little gaps between her bright teeth. She has gone and returned. My eyes have affirmed that she is. Now you hide, she says, keeping her eyes open as I crouch behind a not-too-large rock.


Caroline Sutton is the author of a collection of essays, Don’t Mind Me, I Just Died, and a memoir, Mainlining, both published by Montemayor Press. Her essays have appeared in Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, The Pinch, Cimarron Review, and Southwest Review, among others.


Image by Diana Parkhouse courtesy of Unsplash

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