He swoops me up in his buff, tan arms and swings me around over the water. I squint through the sun at his lush hair and run my hands through it. The rays shine like a spotlight on us – the only two inhabitants of our private beach. He places me down on my feet and the seaweed entangles our ankles, pulling us together like an invisible force. He leans his head to the side and cups my cheeks in his warm, callused hands… Thwack! My hair whips across my face as a pillow bounces off me.
“What the heck?” I scream. I slide out of bed and stomp into the hallway, following the tiny yelps of help coming from my cousins. I find them huddled in the kitchen behind their parents’ thighs laughing as if they’ve pulled a prank worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
“What the heck?” I repeat.
“What happened?” Mom asks as she places a platter of smoking hot bacon on the table. I pull off a piece and start munching on it as I relay the story of wake-up call.
My cousins run off to watch a movie and eat breakfast, and my mom sidles up to me and says, “They’re kids. Let it go.”
I roll my eyes and race back to my room with bacon and yogurt in hand, slamming the door behind me.
As I start to change into my bathing suit for the day, I open up my curtains to let in the beautiful, bright beach sun, and before I can even enjoy the light, I jam the curtains back together and fall against my bed. After a few seconds I peek back through the curtains. He’s still there. My crush is stretching in his yard. He’s wearing sneakers and mesh shorts. No shirt.
I can only stare for a couple seconds before he’s off and running along the sidewalk past dog walkers and stroller pushers.
Knock knock. My mom, wearing a nice tank top, khaki shorts and gold sandals, pushes open my door and takes a seat on my bed.
“What are you wearing?” I inquire.
“We’re going to the Alabama Theater to see this show the kids want to see. I don’t know. Something with dogs. It sounds cute!”
“You never told me this! I don’t want to go see some dog show. It’s probably puppets or something stupid like that,” I state.
“No, I think it’s real dogs actually. And I thought I mentioned it to you…”
“Well you didn’t. And I’m not going.”
Suddenly, Aunt Jen walks into the room as well.
“The kids are getting antsy. Are y’all almost ready?” she asks, scanning my outfit. “You don’t look ready Maya.”
“Oh I’m ready – ready for the beach!” I exclaim defiantly, pushing past them with my bag in hand. I skip down the steps and slip on my flip flops. My dad is finishing packing a picnic lunch for the day, and my mom and Aunt Jen follow me into the kitchen.
“Margaret, I’ll just stay home with Maya if that’s what she wants. I’m fine with that. I could sit on the beach all day and read. You know that,” Aunt Jen says.
“Thank you!” I sigh, grabbing a cold water bottle out of the fridge.
“What’s this all about?” Dad inquires.
“Maya wants to go to the beach today and not come to the show with us. But we’ve had this planned, and there’s no way I’m letting her on that beach alone,” Mom explains.
“Mo-om!” I whine.
“Margaret, let her go,” my dad says.
“See Mom, you’re the only one being stubborn about this. Aunt Jen even said she’d go with me!”
“Let me just put my suit on,” Aunt Jen tells me, heading back to her bedroom.
“Fine,” Mom sighs through gritted teeth. She rips the cooler out of Dad’s hands and shimmies out to the car.
“Have a good day sweetie,” my dad says, kissing me on the forehead.
“Thanks. Tell me how the talking sock terriers are,” I reply.
Dad shakes his head. “Don’t start.”
“I’m ready!” Aunt Jen announces. Her sunglasses are poised atop her head, and the sweet smell of sunscreen wafts into the kitchen.
“Bye girls!” my dad calls just before the door shuts with a thump.
“Let’s go get our tan on missy.”
Maya is the main character, and her family is staying in a beach house in Myrtle Beach.