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Why do the plovers fly away? - Chapter 13

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

I cannot fathom your age. Silent. Yet so many stories. Are they waiting To be told? The water in the stream Sings them. The waves Let you ring them out. A beach full of storytellers.

Pebble Beach by Xavi Gudrich


Lee Beach by Xavi Gudrich

Mel and Anne were sitting at the long table in the research office, waiting for the rest of the team to join them. Ben and Bakul were holed up in Ben’s office, puzzling over a line of code, and John, the team member Mel had yet to meet, was due to arrive in a few minutes.

“Would you like a scone? They’re singin’ hinnies. My mam made them last night,” said Mel.

“Of course, I’ve never had a singin’ hinny before!” said Anne.

Her eyes lit up at the first bite of crumbly deliciousness. She leaned back in her chair, savoring the tartness of the currants.

“Mmmm,” she sighed, “tell your mum she’s an angel.”

“Angel or no, she does make a good scone.”

Anne laughed, her long earrings swinging back and forth. A small, ceramic frog dangled from each of her ears, and Anne had pulled her hair back to show them off.

“I love your earrings,” said Mel. “Did you make them yourself?”

Anne shook her head, and the earrings bounced again. “I’m not much of a crafter. My mum made them. She died when I was six.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

Anne made a practiced gesture that must have come from years of people telling her they were sorry. “She was a really cool person. She was a professor at Bangor, same as Dad. English literature and creative writing, so I got the best bedtime stories a kid could ask for. After she died, that’s when Dad decided to go abroad with me. We had this wonderful life in Wales, but he just felt like we needed a fresh start.”

“Where did you go?” asked Mel.

“Well first we went to Iceland, because, you know, going to a cold, cloudy island with no sunlight for half the year is a great idea for a grieving family.” Anne chuckled softly. “Iceland is actually my favorite of all the places we’ve lived, though. We were there for two years studying puffins. And then another two years in Australia, and a brief stint in Maldives, and after that we were in South Africa up until we moved to South Shields. We were doing the same kind of mortality study as up here, just with white-fronted plovers instead of common-ringed plovers.”

Mel opened her mouth to say something, but Bakul burst out of Ben’s office just then.

“It’s a miracle!” Bakul shouted, holding a laptop triumphantly above their head. “We finally got the code to run correctly.”

“We don’t even have any data yet. What are you running code for?” asked Anne.

“Ben got curious about some climate and habitat data from the last couple years. Apparently some folks out of Newcastle came down here to collect data, but they never actually had time to run any analyses,” said Bakul.

They set the laptop down on the table and ran a hand through their shoulder-length hair. Today they wore a sleek black top tucked into flowy red trousers, which looked to be hand-embroidered with tiny black roses. Ben joined them a moment later, glancing up as the front door swung open.

“Ah, John’s arrived. Good to see you, John. This is our intern, Mel.” And then, catching the look that passed between them, he added, “I take it you two have already met?”

Read on:

About the author: Ella Shively is an undergraduate studying natural resources and writing at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, USA. You can find her online at

About this chapter's featured poet: When not working as a marine scientist or Latin teacher, Xavi expresses himself artistically as the composer for his band The Lürxx. From time to time, he also writes poetry. "Pebble Beach" was written on Lee beach when he was recently walking the North Devon stretch of the South-West coast path for the Plover Rovers.

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