Joanne Faries

She held me tight, hugged me, and whispered in my ear, then combed my blonde hair, selected a pink outfit, and strapped me into the car alongside her, careful not to pinch.   

The sun gleamed as we headed to Ocean City. Cara prattled on about the beach, digging and creating a humongous sand castle. She wore a pink swimsuit since we always matched.  

At the beach, Cara’s Dad loaded her with towels, her bucket set slung over her arm. “I’ll be back. I promise,” she called to me. Mom and Dad hoisted beach chairs, lugged a cooler, and dragged a rubber raft. The thud of the door and then the lock surprised me. I swooned. Click, a murmur of voices, and Cara cuddled me. “Thanks, Daddy,” she said as we trotted onto the sand.  

Propped on the leading edge of a moat, I heard ocean waves crashing, kids splashing with delight.  On a slant, my blue eyes tilted downward from the day’s glare.  

Cara and her mother headed to the boardwalk restroom, while her father snoozed on his towel. A boy dashed by, slapped me facedown into the moat, and kicked the castle. Wet itchy sand splattered over me, heavy and damp.  

Air whooshed out of the raft, and the cooler lid slapped shut. Towels flapped to remove sand. “Hurry up, Cara. No dawdling. No, it’s time to go.”   

They left. She left.  

She left me and a sluice of cold water bathes me as the tide draws near.    

First published: August, 2009
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