Walking along the beach, I spotted a smooth, round piece of sea glass in the sand. The waves pushed it forward, rolling it toward my feet like a dog wanting to play fetch.

I picked it up, fingering the cold, smooth hardness. It was roughly the size of a half dollar, and the color of a smoked glass apothecary bottle. I noticed various textured surfaces inside it, sparking dully gold in the fading light of the day. As I turned it over in my palm, I realized there was a surface beneath the surface that roiled and shifted.

Startled, I threw it down, suppressing a shout. It looked like a living thing, like the insides of some animal. It lay there in the sand, as dark and unfathomable as before. Had I just imagined things?

I cautiously picked it up, turning it gingerly in my hand. It was moving! Was it just hollow and full of dirty liquid?

The edge caught the light from the sunset and gleamed so brightly, I glanced around to confirm I was alone. It looked like the reflection of a car headlight. Glancing back at it, I thought it seemed to be drawing light into itself, if that makes any sense. My hands and even the sun grew darker, as if in deep shade.

Then it began to chime gently, like an alarm on a distant cell phone, and suddenly it expanded and floated in the air above my hands, growing larger by the second.

Again, I dropped it in fright, but it bounced off the sand and stopped in the air in front of my face. I had this sense of being looked at, but in a curious way, not threatening. With a high-pitched ping, the little piece of glass flew away in a long arc, as if thrown, and disappeared against the horizon.

A distant thunderclap rang out, and I found I was alone on the beach again with my thoughts. “What just happened?” I thought.

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