We were going to the beach.
Not the Ocean’s, but the Lake’s.
Mom had packed the bags. They were stuffed with colorful towels, cookies, and sunscreen. I told her not to forget my goggles. They would be necessary to pull a sneak attack on my brother. Oh, and don’t forget the buckets, too. I had to build a fortress while my skin unwrinkled from the water.
I walked out the door beaming; I had my favorite swimsuit on. The two piece with the mermaids and the frilly ends at my waist, like a tutu. I even had purple flip-flops to match.
Dad was readying the jeep. He had removed the top exposing the role cage and tan skin of the interior. He took the bags and strapped them down. They liked to blow away. Dad says it’s because the bags want to learn how to fly.
There was my brother, already in the backseat raring to go. He turned to see me climbing up into the jeep, grinning wide. Even though he was only six, I knew he had already something schemed up.
I plopped down next to him. My bare skin immediately stung; the leather seats had become burners in the sun. I squeezed my hands between the seat and my legs hoping to ease the pain.
Dad started the jeep. The engine gave a deep growl and the light smell of gasoline floated through the air.
While the engine warmed up (the ole jeep had a habit of quitting on its task after it first started), Dad got the two bandanas out of the glove box and turned to us for the ceremonial fitting. He placed my brother’s black one first; fixed around his head like a ninja.
Mine was next; the hot pink fabric was folded into a triangle and tied with two ends at the back. He tucked the last corner in until it was tight.
Dad put his green one on like my brother’s and put the jeep into drive. My brother and I looked at each other and nodded. We placed our feet on the rugged floorboard and grasped onto the roll-bar. Once our grip was tight, we stepped up onto the back seat and clenched harder onto the bar, placing one arm opposite like a chokehold. From this spot, you could see above the car and the wind would really pelt into you. Cars would honk at us; it felt like we were the King and Queen of the world. We loved it.
We didn’t have too far to go; just over the iron bridge. The bridge had been carrying cars over the lake for years. You could hear it creaking as cars passed over. There were even holes in its deck where you could see straight down to the blue water.
My mother’s big curls were flapping wildly in the wind. She always said no to the bandana.
I tighten my grip as we came to the bridge. Bump, bump, bump, bump. My brother and I gave a loud whoop, letting the bridge’s rough spots change our tone.
After crossing, we made a quick turn to the right and headed down the state park road. The pine trees started whistling by in deep green blurs. I could feel the summer sun glistening down on top of us and my cheeks already starting to turn red.
One more right turn and we were there. The green land fed out to a line of rocks and past that was a golden blanket of sand. I could hear the water swooshing at the shore.
I jumped out of the jeep, running at full pace to the water. When my feet hit the sand I kicked off my shoes and ran faster. I could hear my mom calling for me to get some sunscreen first, but my feet were on fire and my heart was set on breaking through the water.
I hit the water’s edge and pushed through. My feet sank like boulders in the mud below. I drudged out until I was on the tips of my toes, my head bobbing just above the water. I spread my arms wide and pushed the water to propel me out so that my feet no longer touched the ground. I took a deep breath and slid below the surface.