Today Mum and I took the dog to the beach. As we walked along the shore, throwing sticks for the dog, following other peoples' footprints, picking up bits of kelp to study the insects beneath them and generally doing beachy things, I spotted a crab. It was dead. It was, in fact, lying on its back in the surf. It was in perfect condition! It is not often you find a crab with all its legs, including both of the big claws and its paddles. The crab looked like this:
Crab. Same size as real thing.
I picked up my mint condition crab and took it over to show Mum. We agreed that this was too good of a crab to leave on the beach and that we would take it home, put it outside in the sun, wait for it to stop smelling and then add it to the décor of the lounge.
Mum carried the crab up the beach while I threw sticks, etc. We got back to the car and as she reversed out of the park I was handed the crab. Carefully, I turned it over and looked it in the crab eyes.
(There was going to be a picture of crab eyes here but apparently no-one wants to see that.)
I was holding the crab's body between my thumb and forefinger, legs dangling down to either size. Wanting to see how meaty the crab was, I gave it a slight squeeze, and that was when the miracle happened! The crab's legs started to move. I yelped, abruptly stopped squeezing the crab and alerted Mum to the crab's zombie status by shouting, "Mum! It's alive!"
Mum looked at the crab, frantically pedalling its legs in the air.
"Oh," she said, "so it is."
"Stop the car," I yelled, "I have to take it back to the sea!" Mum sighed and drove back into the parking lot.
I shouted, "I have resurrected the crab!"
Mum said that I had not resurrected the crab.
But I had. The crab had been dead. I had squeezed the crab. And the crab had come back to life.
Mum said that she would wait in the car while I took the crab home. We ran down the beach, crab and I, all of our legs going as fast as they could go. (When I say the crab ran, I mean it was in my hand waving its legs about, not racing down the beach next to me.) We reached the water's edge, and I gently lowered the crab onto the sand and watched a wavelet lap over its little shell.
As I did this, a host of other crabs came out of nowhere, formed a circle, and began to bow down before the resurrected crab. "Paddles," they chanted in their terrifyingly monotonous crab voices, "you have returned. Paddles, you are our God."
I left the crabs to their ceremony and walked back up the beach. I didn't tell Mum about the crab cult, just that I had put the crab back in the sea, and on the way home we had an ice cream.
I never saw Paddles again. But on nights when the moon is full, I sometimes look out across the water and imagine that I can hear, far below, the paddling of a pair of tiny feet, or whatever it is that crabs have instead of feet.