Nora, my sister, and I get along, sometimes. She likes to tell everyone she’s the older one because I’m so immature.
“Mom! We haven’t been to the beach this summer and it’s almost over!” says Nora standing next to me as we confront our mother with this statistic.
“Nora’s birthday is coming up. She really likes the beach.” I add this fact in hopes of playing Mom. We both want to go to the beach.
“We could go for Daddy’s birthday. We could take a picnic lunch of that wonderful chicken you make and your delicious potato salad.” Nora is really working too hard at this. Dad hates the beach so using his birthday is not helpful. I must repair this argument.
“Really, Mom, Nora has been looking forward to this beach trip all summer. This is almost criminal.”
Mom looks us. She’s cleaning the kitchen counters. “I’ll talk to your dad tonight. Now go play. Meggie, did you dust the living room like I asked you?”
“Yes, Mom.” Would I dare come ask you for a trip to the beach without dusting? Okay, yes I would. Must get that done now.
We leave the room quickly before Mom can remember to ask about the bathrooms.
I run my hand around the furniture in the living room while Nora goes to our room to convince our six-year-old sister to help us.
I hear Nora saying, “Wanna go to the beach? It’ll be fun!”
“I hate the beach.” Lisa is being Lisa.
“We’ll have a picnic with all your favorite stuff. We can get ice cream from the vendors on the boardwalk.” Nora wheedles.
“I don’t like their ice cream. It tastes funny to me.” Lisa waves the doll she’s playing with around and bashes it into the floor, making the head pop off.
“Meggie will let you play with her horses.”
I run in quickly, “Wait no! The last time she touched them, three lost legs and one both ears.”
Nora waves me off.
“Okay, I’ll ask Daddy when he gets home.” Lisa caves.
Nora grabs the box from the book shelves and hands it to Lisa who rips off the cover. She dumps them out on the floor and horse carnage begins.
Why did I agree to help Nora get to the beach? Because, she’s my sister and I know she wants this, badly. Okay, I really want to go to the beach, too.
I hear Dad’s car in the driveway. My sisters yell “Daddy’s home!” and run to the front door.
“Daddy, Daddy, Can we go to the beach? It’s my birthday. We can take a picnic lunch.” Nora starts the assault.
“Please Daddy please? It’s Nora’s birthday.” Lisa coaxes.
I stay out of sight. I don’t want to jinx it.
“Well, Dear?” Mom has joined them.
“I hate the beach.” Daddy whines, “Sand in my shoes, in my pants, in my food. Ugh.”
“But it’s Nora’s birthday and she loves the beach.” Mom smiles sweetly. Maybe she wants to go, too?
Daddy sighs deeply, “Well okay. We have to leave early to avoid traffic because I hate traffic almost as much as the beach.”
Mom and I fry chicken and make potato salad after supper. We pack everything in foil ready to place in the cooler in the morning. I hum happily the whole time.
Nora and I don’t sleep. I play tricks on her for giving Lisa my horses. We sleep in bunk beds and I’m on top. I slide my hand down the wall and wiggle my fingers like a spider. She bumps my mattress in retaliation.
Finally, dawn’s light streams through the window on a wonderfully hot day and we bounce into the kitchen ready to go. Mom has fixed us cereal for breakfast and now she fills the cooler. We load it into the trunk with a beach blanket and towels. We hop into our seats, giggling with excitement. Dad starts the car and we’re off.
It seems forever, but it’s only about thirty minutes before we can hear the gulls and smell the ocean. We pull up and park. All of us grab the stuff out of the trunk and hurry to the beach. The beautiful sand stretches before us in all its glory. Waves wash in and drain out. The sound of the surf calls us. We can’t wait to swim and run to the shore shrieking with joy leaving Mom and Dad to unpack. We wade out and dive into an incoming wave.
The ocean picks me up and carries me out. I’m happy. I’m lost in the ocean’s vastness. I turn on my back and look up to the sky and the birds flying over head. Free at last from cleaning bathrooms and snarky sisters.
“Meggie! Meggie! Come back, Meggie you’re too far out!” Silly Nora’s trying to follow me. She’s can’t swim like me. “Don’t ruin my birthday. Daddy will never let us come back.”
Snarky sisters have found me. I guess I have to go back. Nora’s my sister and I have to think of her. She’s also right. Getting Dad here was tough enough I don’t need to make it harder.I turn toward shore and start back, catching a wave, riding it in to the surf’s edge.
Lisa looks upset. She points frantically out to sea. Tears streak her cheeks.
Where’s Nora? I look out across the water. She’s struggling too far out to make it back to the beach. It’s my fault. I dive back into the waves and swim out to her. I grab her hand and pull her to me in the life saving position I’m glad I learned earlier this summer at the pool, and head to land. “Why did you follow me?”
“You’re my sister and I worry about you.”
“You scared Lisa and me.”
“I know.” Nora grins. “Let’s go get some lunch. First one to the blanket gets the gizzards.” The three of us take off running up the beach. Being sisters seems like the ocean – infinite and complicated.