She yelled for us to come admire her find. Nimble-not at our age, we carefully planted each foot on the stone-covered beach. Had it been twenty years earlier, I am sure we would have run to see the treasure she held, not aloft, for the sheer weight kept it from being held much higher than her waist. It must have been heavy, pressed against her belly. The belly soft and rounded behind her dark jeans. I am sure the rock appreciated the soft resting spot after thousands of years of living under the waves. Who knows when the ocean spat it out onto this corner of the coast or what precipice it plummeted from. It may have cracked from a larger rock or cliff, shed off in glacial erosion, and smoothed as it mingled with other chipped stones, soothed by the ocean’s salty hand.
“Look.” She held it out a few inches from her midsection. It was a rock. A rock with a large nick cut out of the top part. “It’s a heart. I'm taking it as a memento.”
She'd come to visit for the weekend. As a landlocked inhabitant, she must not have understood leaving nature intact.
“You can’t remove rocks from the beach. It’s lovely, really, it is, but you have to leave it here.”
“There are millions. No one’s going to miss it.” With a tug, she pulled the weighty rock up to her chest. "My heart." She leaned her head forward and brushed her cheek lightly against it.
We checked to see if anyone was waiting nearby to report us to the park rangers, or worse the local sheriff’s office. Clear coast. Our third partner in crime reiterated her disdain of the rock’s potential, and inevitable removal. The rock thief was firm in her desires. Number Three said nothing and pretended to look downwards. She avoided entering the conversation. I watched her place her foot down, round it on the rocks, and do likewise with the other one. There was no need for another opinion. Either the rock was coming with us or it was going to return to its tossing under a wave, jostling by the current, or heaving to the other side of the world in a seismic underwater shifting of the tectonic plates.
I held the contraband while she removed her sweater and draped it over the rock, shrouding it from view. Back in her grasp, because there was no way I was going to carry stolen goods, she wrapped her arms taught around it. Plus the thing weighed a ton and a one-arm carry would have been impossible.
I double pressed the fob and, the back of the car flew open. Rock-stealer set the contraband in the back, came around to the passenger side, and plunked herself down. I got into the driver's seat, adjusted my mirrors, needlessly, and we all looked around again. In silence, Number Three situated herself the back seat.
Going uphill, the car felt heavier with the rock tucked into the back corner. The rock thief must have been cold, for the rock no longer wore the sweater. The petty criminal sat next to me, slipping her arms through the sleeves and buttoning the faux pearl buttons as we pulled out of the parking space.
“Buckle up.” The instruction was more of a command since we had teetered on being outlaws enough for one day.
She clicked the clasp. “Lobster?” The word from our third accomplice floated over the front seat console from the back passenger side of the car.
We made eye contact, catching glances in the sun visor mirrors with the backseat's inhabitant. The road hummed under the car’s tires, getting louder as the distance widened between us and the crime scene. With the impending onset of lobster inebriation, we assessed the merits of a whole lobster vs Lazy Man’s Lobster which floated in butter, adn was topped with broken Ritz Crackers.
On the off chance someone had observed our malfeasance, and it might be my last decent meal for some time to come, I opted for the crispy topping.