Clara measures time by tide. The intervals of the spring tide along the shore impose a metronomic order upon her worry. She huddles upon the strand with her knees drawn up against her swelling breasts and gazes at the wrack floating in the channel of tidewater. She listens for a heartbeat she cannot hear. An October squall rakes off the Sound, adorning her with spindrift, feeding her salt. Soon, it will rain, and she must leave to prepare dinner for her husband and their glittering company—glittering company is the most tiresome kind.
There is no more time, so she gives way to despair and hope, secreting this fragile thing away. She rises and stumbles on a Mermaid’s Purse laying in the receding wash. The translucent pillow of the egg case startles her. She races for the parking lot as the storm quickens. She is soaked through, frigid, and as she drives home, she fears the wetness between her legs is blood and loss.