My feet smoosh down the hard-packed sand as I walk, and my sister, Vanessa, practically skips ahead of me. I sense the almost-forgotten feeling of sandpaper rubbing together, and I bend down to clean out the cause of my sensation, the sand that managed to squeeze itself in between my toes. I’ve never liked those rebellious grains.
I look over and see Vanessa already tanning in the sun, and I almost let out a snort of laughter. Whenever she has time off of work, it seems like she is always tanning, or walking down the beach, or playing volleyball with total strangers. I can’t believe I let her drag me down here.
Distracted, I take another step, and it feels like I’ve stepped on a nail. I yank back my already-bleeding and already-hurting foot, and I see the pesky culprit: a jagged, coral-pink shell, split imperfectly in half. I reach down to grab it, so I can take out my frustrations on it and give it a hearty throw.
However, as I’m winding up, half-shell in hand, the stinging in my foot slowly fades away, like fog drifting back to reveal a sunny sky. I feel a stupid smile somehow appear on my face, and I start swaying back and forth like a great, majestic tree, throwing the half-shell completely forgotten. I feel myself start to drift along the beach like the fog, and I slide sand between my toes. I can’t fathom why I never liked this feeling before. I glide along, lithe and graceful like a cat, except that there is no prey for me to find, no worry, no stress, only bliss. I feel really sleepy all of a sudden, and I decide to lie down in the ocean, the water flowing over my body perfectly, like a gentle, comforting breeze. I start to relax more and more, and my mind starts growing darker and darker, until…
“JJ!” my sister screams, using my childhood nickname. Her voice shatters my trance as abruptly as an opera singer shattering a glass. Startled, I drop the half-shell, and I jerk and splutter and flail like a wet cat. I inhale, but only water enters, and my panic increases. Out of nowhere, a gentle yet strong grip latches onto my arm, and my life-preserver sister yanks me out of the water and back onto the beach. I cough and heave, as Vanessa haphazardly tells her side of the story.
“Jess, I just saw you walking mechanically and…and…then you went under the water, and you weren’t coming out, and then I…I just…”
I wrap her up in the biggest bear hug I could manage, and I think to myself, “So much for being lithe and graceful!”
I again reach down and clean out the sand between my toes as Vanessa insists on taking me back to her house to get me cleaned up. However, right before we leave, I feel a strong yearning, as though a piece has been removed from my puzzle. Not caring if Vanessa sees me or not, I shake my head violently, as though trying to forcibly remove the sentiment from my brain. Despite her questioning look, I walk off with her without even a second glance back at the beach.