From the Mind of a Child

by Grant Bentley


My name is James Healey. I have lived my entire life within walking distance of this beach. I taught school for thirty seven years and am retired now. Have been for the last five years. Most of which I have spent on this beach, walking, reading, people watching, or just relaxing. There is something about the sound of the waves I find relaxes me; gives me a sense of peace.

This particular evening, as usual, I found myself wandering along the water’s edge; the waves lapping at my feet. The only sounds I could hear were the cries of the seagulls and the splashing of the waves. I was lost in own little world. Something that seemed to be happening more often lately.

Suddenly something hit me in the back. I turned around only to see a volleyball laying in the sand and a young man running towards me.

“I’m so sorry sir,” he said, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I replied with a smile, “No need to be sorry. It was an accident and no harm done.”

He flipped the ball up with his foot, caught it and hit it back to one of the other players. He turned back to me and smiled, “Have a good evening sir. Take care,” he said.

“You too,” I responded. ‘What a nice young man,’ I thought smiling.

Then, like a bolt of lightning, the realization hit me. ‘I just walked right past them and didn’t see them? Am I starting lose it?’ I wondered.

If I could walk past a dozen or more young men shouting and racing around playing beach volleyball and not see them, I was losing something. I suddenly felt tired and walked across the beach to a vacant bench and sat down.

I began to pay attention to the boys game. After watching for a few minutes I felt a tear run down my cheek. ‘Oh my God, was I ever that young?’ I thought to myself, ‘Where did my life go?’

“You okay mister?” came a little voice.

I looked down to see a little guy no more than seven or eight standing by the bench looking quite concerned.

“Yes, I’m okay,” I replied.

“Then why you crying?” he asked.

“I just though of something that made me sad,” I answered, “But I’m fine now.”

“What made you sad?” he inquired.

“I just realized that I’m old,” I told him, “And I don’t want to be old.”

He looked at me for a second or two then asked “Do you get yelled at a lot?”

“No,” I replied.

“Do you get grounded a lot?” he asked.

“No,” I replied again with a smile this time.

“Do you have to go to school all day and listen to a bunch of boring stuff you don’t care about?” he asked.

“No,” I responded, this time with a little laugh.

Then grinning at me he said, “See, sometimes, being young isn’t all that great either.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said.

“My Grandpa says life is what you make it,” he said with a serious look on his face, “If you wanna be sad, you’ll be sad. If you wanna be happy, you’ll be happy. You just gotta think happy thoughts. It doesn’t matter how old you are.”

I just looked at him and smiled as this screeching voice penetrated the air sending a shiver up my spine. “Joey, you leave that man alone. How many times do I have to tell you not to talk to strangers? You’re grounded for the rest of the weekend young man.”

He just looked at me smiled and shrugged, “See,” he said.

“Think happy thoughts,” I told him smiling, “And Joey…thanks.”

He ran off in the direction of the voice. After running about twenty feet, he stopped and looked back for a second, “See ya,” he called as he smiled and waved.

I smiled and waved back.

Then, as I turned to look out over the water, I realized the sun was just beginning to set.

I sat on the bench watching the sunset and listening to the sounds of the waves flushing away the daily debris from the crowds as well as from my mind and sighed contentedly.