The wind had already picked up the afternoon's stragglers and dusk was threatening. I crouched in the sand and drew terrible pictures with a stick. They looked like chickenscratch to the discerning eye but they were works of imagination. I smirked at my work and looked at the gently stirring water, debating, searching.
Behind me Mother rolled up a wrinkled, shabby blanket and picked up her ladie's magazine, the one that would tell her how to be beautiful, how to get the ideal man, which skirt to wear to that interview, all of the staples of life. She slipped on some sandals, the ones that gave her blisters I think, and slid her petite body into a jean jacket. She wanted to go back home to her telephone, her tv, and her date. I wanted to stay.
The tips of my pigtail braids were damp and my hair was beginning to curl at the ends, the few pieces that she had left unmanipulated when she pulled and twisted, combed and yanked. I sighed, feeling the edges of my feet melting into the sad, watching the sand gradually sift into the ocean, becoming a part of something bigger than myself. I didn't like beaches in general- all the glamour of swimsuits and tanning, girls trying to look gorgeous under their umbrellas, guys trying to look buff spiking their volleyballs. Then again I was young but something told me that many of the things I didn't understand at eight I wouldn't understand even after decades of exposure to them. But this, this I understood. Solidarity. Peace. True beauty in between the rocks, thriving off the quietness, the pending storm.
She yelled at me to come and I didn't look back, delving into something just above the waterline. It lay there, right between the clouds and the lapping waves. I could only see hints of it, a glimmer of light, a haze that looks like horizon when something is evaporating from the ground. I didn't know it was there but on some level I did and I didn't want to move until I saw it.
A bit closer, she called. "Come onnn. It's getting dark and we have to get you out of those clothes before Mitch comes over."
I gave it one more look, one more hopeful search and threw my stick down, being pulled away at a scrawny elbow by my mother's prying hand.
I had wanted to say, I should have said, Don't you see, mommy? I'm trying to find a city on the sea.
But then again, she would have dismissed me, she would have kept trudging through the sand. People don't believe in the things they never see. How could I ever expect to her to be any different, I couldn't.