In The House

Entry by: Alobear

20th October 2015
“Have you heard?”

I glanced up from my breakfast to see my nearest neighbour hurrying past.

“No, what?” I asked, a little worried.

My apprehension was dispelled by the excitement of his next words.

“It’s moving day!” He waved at me urgently. “Come on!”

I looked further down the beach and, sure enough, the whole neighbourhood was out in force, moving as a crowd in one particular direction.

I dropped what I was eating and scuttled after my friend.

By the time I arrived at the appropriate spot, a line had already formed. Up at the front, I could see the newly available house looming large over my assembled neighbours. I could tell at a glance that it would be far too big for most of them, and wondered how long we’d have to wait for a suitable tenant to arrive.

I sized up those standing nearest to me and was dismayed to discover that my place would be at the very back of the line. Sighing, I took up my position and settled down to wait. The sun was already high in the sky and its heat beat down on the sand and those gathered there. However long we had to stand there, the actual move was going to be uncomfortable at best.

After what seemed like hours, my neighbours were starting to get impatient, shifting about in place and grumbling to those ahead of and behind them. At long last, though, a massive newcomer strolled up and did a careful circuit of the new dwelling. Apparently satisfied, he positioned himself at the head of the line, and an excited buzz rippled back towards me.

Everybody got ready, concentrating hard on the one next to them in line, preparing for the manoeuver, always a tricky proposition. And then, all at once, we each scrambled out of our previous homes and launched ourselves towards the next size up just in front.

I felt the punishing rays of the sun on my exposed lower half immediately. I had to get in my new house as soon as possible, or I might cook right there on the beach. But, before I could secure it, a latecomer suddenly muscled in from the side and grabbed it out from under me. Then, it was all over; everyone but me had upgraded, and was shuffling off about their business, quickly getting used to their new digs.

Panicked, and still heating up, I studied the discarded house of the thief and was disheartened to see that it was only very slightly bigger than my own. Worse, I could see a hole in the side that might prove treacherous.

Defeated, I turned to my old house and stuffed myself back into it, feeling the worrying pinch that told me it would soon be too small.

Then, I made my way disconsolately back to what was left of my breakfast, knowing that the next moving day I would absolutely have to make sure I was successful.

The life of a hermit crab is never easy!