Visiting the Beach

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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I remember that summer & I miss the aunts that I haven't seen since then. Hope you enjoy reading it.

Time has come and gone and it has ebbed and flowed of late. There are times when Time itself has seemed to have stood still, whether it be in the arms of someone you love or when you're staring at the clock at 2:17, waiting for the final bell to ring. There was a point in my life in which there did, indeed, seem to be no time whatsoever. Time was like a circle, going 'round and 'round but never breaking off and continuing to make a difference. It is a point in the time of my life that I have come to remember for no apparent reason, besides to remember my loving aunts and the ocean that was their home and remains to this day to be mine.

First off, let's get this straight. My family- I, my little brother and my parents- were planning to go to my aunts' house in Rehoboth, Maryland. It is practically right on top of the well-known Ocean City though not a lot of people remember it from their trips to the beach. My aunts are Bonnie and Fay, Bonnie being my Pop-pop's sister and Fay being her girlfriend (since, to this day, gay/lesbian marriage is not permitted). Mom seemed to be willing enough to, though she claimed to be neutral on the gay vs. straight matter, fill us with stereotypes about the aunts. They weren't patient with you. They were cranky. They shared and room. Perhaps the most important one to her was that, yes, they were a couple and we shouldn't discriminate against them because it is their decision and that is how they are. Maybe the latter wasn't exactly a stereotype, but even though Mom said that it was their decision and it wasn't her right to criticize or disapprove, you got the feeling that she already did.

I remember that the time we came was around the time that one of the Harry Potter books had come out- the sixth maybe? Either way, we had two copies that Mom, Dad and I swapped between the three of us so that we were on even reading grounds. Logan had kept whining that he wanted to read them too, but he was so young and the books were so huge so the rebounding answer was an obvious, uh, no.

I'd been reading in the car when we started getting close to my aunts' house. We were along a street at several times that was right next to docks and the saltwater smell seemed to be able to permeate the car windows. I'd wanted so badly to roll down the windows; I loved that smell so much. But then we turned into what looked like a pre-planned neighborhood and, at the pretense of getting lost, successfully found Bonnie and Fay's house. We walked up to the door and the ladies ushered their two snappy schnauzers away, telling us to stay back because the dogs weren't especially good amongst strangers.

I remembering hesitating inside the doorway, examining the house and the two relatives I’d met before but didn’t remember in the slightest. Well, that was what I thought, at least, until I saw them. Then I remembered trips to the beach and family reunions and my mom and step-dad’s wedding where they had been present. Both of them were rotund older ladies in their late-fifties or early-sixties at the time. Bonnie was all smiles and cutesy with glasses and white-gray hair, while Fay was the obvious, spunky guy in the relationship. She had black hair and wore shades over her own glasses and, while Bonnie was quiet and sweet, Fay was what you would call loud and boisterous- the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.

They showed us where we would be sleeping- me and Logan, my brother, had a room to ourselves while Mom and Dad had a room next to ours- and we headed into town to a French fry joint that Fay liked a lot. She and Bonnie chatted to a lot of the people there and they drove us around afterwards, pointing out the occasional dolphin statue that we could see.

“We know exactly how many there are in town,” Fay told us, taking out a folded piece of paper. “We even have a map that shows us exactly where they are. Let’s just see if you two can figure out where all of them are.” Logan and I were after that, of course, completely bent on finding all of the dressed up dolphin statues and monuments. We drove around town for a while then trying to find everything before we went back home.

That evening I found out both of my aunts’ professions. I remember stumbling into a room upstairs (don’t ask me, I can’t remember what exactly I was doing up there) where there was what looked like saw dust everywhere and yellow-tan teeth everywhere on newspapers.

“I make teeth for people,” Bonnie had said when she’d found me in the room. It was how she got by, making teeth for dentists and such since she was almost like a household doctor, except for teeth. Whatever you would call that kind of thing. She left the house at one point that night too, to give some old woman her teeth, and we had a visitor later on who came to pick up his teeth.

Even at that time, I was a writer. I’d brought along a pack of paper and a folder with some notes on the book I’d been writing at the time. Logan was out with Mom and Dad, annoying them as they attempted to read Harry Potter, but I think that Bonnie stepped in at one point so they could have their peace. Fay came in to me and asked me what I was writing.

“A book,” I said, and then blushed. “Like a story that I have on my mind.”

“You write stories?” she asked. I nodded. “Did you know that I do too?” I had been so shell-shocked; all I’d been able to do was shake my head. “Yeah I got it written out and published and everything. Your parents never told you that?”

“No,” I said. Then, I was anxious, wondering if I’d somehow offended her and not wanting my parents to get in trouble. “But it sounds really cool. What was it about?” Of course, I really can’t say that I remember what she told me about the book, but it had a picture of her on the front on a chair on the beach, laughing. She told me that if I ever finished a chapter or a rough draft of my book that I could send it to her and Bonnie and that they could edit it for me. She told me that Bonnie had become a very good editor for her when she’d been writing her story and that, if my story, or another that I wrote, was good enough that she could probably get it published for me.

God, I didn’t want that little time with my aunts to end. The next day, Fay told us that if we were willing enough to wake up early, that she would take us down to the docks and go crabbing with us. Then, that night, we could make our own little crab recipes. Oh man, I remember that first when we’d stayed there that all of us had begun gorging on delicious crabs the way that only Marylanders can appreciate and how Fay was downright shocked when Dad declined. Mom, in her happy, crab-eating place, laughingly teased him and his disgust at eating anything with bones or exoskeletons. Even Logan had been a little squeamish at the time and, us ladies; we had a fiesta with these crabs.

I didn’t want that time with Bonnie and Fay to end at all. I wanted to stay there on that beach where time seemed to chug by at an extremely slow pace; you smelled salt in the air everyday and had a chance everyday to sample every type of delectable, god-like seafood the world could offer. I was so happy- it had been my happy place there, my little home with two people that I really loved: Bonnie, the sweet, motherly figure and Fay, the writer that could help me improve and truly understand that quiet, intuitive side of me.

The next morning I woke up early, but late. It was early because it sure as hell was way before ten o’clock in the morning, but it was late because it was after the designated time that Fay and Bonnie had wanted us to leave to go to the docks and crab. I already knew something was wrong, could feel my own little sense of premonition wrapping itself around my stomach and catching the breath in my chest when I heard the news: Mom-mom had been in a car accident. We were leaving so that we could go home and hopefully meet up with her at the hospital.

The feeling I felt when I heard the news was indescribable. Still, I can try to explain it as a crushing feeling that this little piece of heaven that I found was suddenly ruined. That all the demons of hell had flown in and burned it down until even the ashes were gone. I guess this moment was big for me because it was the first time in my young life that I felt that crushing sense of loss that I am now, sadly, accustomed to. I remember pouting, and how Dad had grabbed my arm and told me to stop whining, that we needed to pack. Mom had come in to help me after he left, casting me one of her infamous sideways glances that seemed to say three things at once.

“Boy you made him mad.”

“I agree with him, just do as you’re told.”

“Stop whining before he comes back in here!”

I immediately felt remorse and protection when Logan woke up later on and was in an even worse temper than I was. I hated Dad so much more when he yelled until he started to cry. I looked at him when Dad left, told him not to whine, but he only got snappier and louder until Dad had to come back in again and practically breathe down our backs.

The house was filled with the sort of anxious silence that follows the news of someone’s death. I was skittish and tripped on the driveway once or twice as we packed our things back in the car. I walked in the house a last time to grab a Harry Potter I’d forgotten, turning my head and then my body in a slow circle to memorize everything. Bonnie and Fay gave me a hug, telling me to keep in touch as they had with my mother, Fay insisting that I send a copy of a chapter or one of my stories whenever I got the chance.

I suppose there’s not an unhappy end to this story. After all, even though my Mom-mom’s car was completely totaled by a monster black Escalade, she escaped it with only a few scrapes and bruises and minor damage to her liver.

“What was that show?” my aunt, Chrissy, had said in the hospital room. Betsy, my other aunt, and Mom, had made a face at her, like “what?”

“What show?” Betsy asked.

“That the guy was like ‘Ow, my liver!’”

“Bevis and Butthead!” Mom and Betsy had cried out.

“Yeah!” Nini said, laughing and turning to Mom-mom. “You’re like Bevis and Butthead: ‘Ow, my liver!’”

“They would say it for the stupidest things too,” Betsy put in.

“Like even if it was their leg or whatever,” I’d put in. We’d all been laughing but Mom-mom, who was still like herself even in a hospital bed as she screeched, “That’s not funny!”

I haven’t heard from Bonnie and Fay since that one day. I remember that Mom was pissed because Dad had left a pair of boots at the house and the old gals had given them away because they didn’t want to have to send them in the mail and they lived too far away for us to want to drive all the way down just to get a pair of boots. Mom had shaken her head, saying she was lucky I was a girl and that Logan was young, because those two women were completely sexist against Dad. I really couldn’t have cared any less- good for them!

And yet, I still wonder what would have happened if we would have stayed and nobody had gotten in a car accident or anything. I miss those two a lot and whenever I write, whether starting a new story, continuing a chapter or any other form of writing, I remember Fay saying that I could send her anything if I wanted to so that she could edit it for me.

I guess that after all the pain and ache and hurt that has happened in my life that, in my time of recovery, I would begin to remember the good memories that I had all but forgotten before. I remember Bonnie and Fay the most though, and that time in the neighborhood that, even if it wasn’t totally oceanfront, you could still smell the salt. That, even though that weekend had been mucky and wet, the sun usually shone there as it had in the picture of Fay laughing with her gladiator sunglasses on, legs splayed out from the beach chair by the ocean. I find myself wanting badly to visit the beach again, to feel the grainy sand crunching between my toes and find sand dollars that you could trade with shell venders. I want to run into the briny water after a sand crab scared me to death and laugh when I get hit in the face with a wave, never wanting to leave because I was already too wet to get dry anytime soon.

I miss Bonnie and Fay because while Bonnie is quiet and kind like me, Fay understands me as a writer and both of them understands what I mean when I say that the ocean beaches of Maryland, smelling of salt and tasting like succulent crab, will forever be my home for as long as I live.

Submitted: December 10, 2008

© Copyright 2022 Violet Rose. All rights reserved.

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