It was a perfect beach day. The skies were azure blue and dappled with white clouds resembling gossamer. The sun warmed the sand and the sea breezes blew steadily, without so much as a break. There were a lot of foamy whitecaps lining the waves, which seemed higher than usual. A group of seagulls stood silently at the water’s edge looking out to sea as if waiting for something. There weren’t many people on the Florida beach in November; some walkers and joggers and a few sunbathers. Only one family was present on this stretch of beach and the three children busied themselves building a sandcastle.
Michael, the oldest, was a typical big brother. At nine years old he was bigger and stronger than his two younger sisters and believed he should be in charge of the castle building. Walking deliberately around the structure, he eyed it from different vantage points and gave directions to the girls.
“That won’t work,”he said as he brushed sand from his board shorts, a bright pattern of lime green and navy blue.
The girls ignored him and kept on working, pushing sand with their hands from one spot to another. The older sister Maddie was seven years old with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her teal colored two piece suit almost matched the sky, except for the bands of coral, yellow and pink that stretched across the front of her top. Mary was the youngest at four years and was quite the diva, with a pink suit and purple tutu. Her matching hat tied under the chin and had a picture of a mermaid on the top with shiny sequins for scales. Coordinating water wings completed her outfit. Strawberry blonde strands of hair worked their way out of the hat over her forehead and blew in the wind.
There was no arguing and little conversation between the children; they worked silently, moving and molding sand. It almost appeared that they could read each other’s thoughts, as they worked in tandem. Occasionally, Michael would make a running jump over the sandcastle and the girls would protest, but they continued to work.
“Mary, go get some water,” Maddie said and Mary obediently picked up the yellow cup and scampered on her tip toes towards the surf.
An elderly couple walked past the children and the woman smiled at the scene.
Mary returned with the water and handed it to Maddie.
“I hope we can come back to the beach for our summer vacation next year,” Michael said.
Maddie nodded in agreement, “Mom said if we’re good at the funeral tomorrow, then we can come back next summer.”
Mary stopped and gazed down the beach. “When is next summer?”
“It’s a long, long time away,” responded Michael. “By the time it gets here, you’ll be going into kindergarten.”
“Yeah, I wish the years didn’t last so long,” Maddie said as she swatted at a bug. “They take forever and I wish they’d go faster.”
And eventually they did.