I am sitting on the warm sand near the ocean. It’s our last day here. We had all agreed we needed to pack up early and get back to the beach house to clean and prepare for our departure tomorrow.
The time keeps getting later and later and no one is making a move to pack up. No one wants to call it quits. No one wants to interrupt this moment.
If we don’t move, time almost stands still even though the sun, a giant ball of yellow light, is quickly sinking behind the tall grass and the weathered, wooden walkway.
Except for the seagulls squawking, looking for remains of today’s picnics, and the rhythm of the waves crashing, it’s quiet on this beach. Not because of the late hour; it’s been this way all week. A quiet, fairly non-commercial strip of paradise guarded by massive beach houses, dream houses.
The few remaining beach goers are packing up as the tide is coming in, calling it a day.
And we all just hang on a little longer.
The littlest, a blonde haired angel with a polka-dotted suit, is squatting down and patting the sand with her chubby little hands. She chatters about the castle and how it’s “the best ever.” Her face lights up as the big kids dig and scoop and shout directions. She’s admired them all week, particularly fond of the little boy, her cousin, who is just a few years older.
He is frantically running back and forth to the water, his skinny arms barely strong enough to carry the orange bucket, water sloshing everywhere. His chest and shoulders and back are toasted brown after five days under the North Carolina sun. His cheeks have been protected from the sun by his faded gray baseball cap. He never takes it off as is obvious by its little boy smell of saltwater and sweat.
He runs to his sister, the oldest of the group and clearly in charge. Her long brown hair is in a salty, tangled braid and she squints in the sunlight. She looks different without her glasses, which she’s left safely back at the beach house. She points to a hole protected by a wall of sand that has been decorated with sticks and seaweed and shells.
He dumps the water into the hole just as a rush of water comes streaming in from both sides. They all scream and squeal as their castle collapses and their shovels and sand toys start to wash away into the sea….
Yes, this is where I long to be.