Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Alton One: Capsule 2

Rick Shane set Carrie in the sled, right in front of a smiling Clarice. They both smelled of the suns screen he rubbed over their exposed parts.  They were both decked out in their pretty bathing suits.  Around them were a variety of beach toys: two yellow buckets, two yellow shovels, a bag of snacks, towels, and sun screen.  He grabbed the string and started tugging the sled through the hot sand.  With his toes he dug in hard in the sand with each step, and half way to the beech his feet were sore and burning.  He moved fast.

If Marie were alive she'd see to it he remembered his sandals.  If she were alive he'd probably do a lot of things different.  If she were alive she'd be with him, perhaps carrying Carrie.  And if she were alive, she would have made sandwiches.  She even made sandwiches better than he did.

He listened as the girls innocently played, oblivious of how hard their dad was working at tugging them through the sand.  He admired them for that innocence, maybe even envied them.  Is he going to hell now for envying his two and four year old daughters?  He smiled at the thought.

It was a scorching hot day, near 90, and the sun was shining in a clear blue sky.  There were hundreds of people decked in their bathing suits scattered all over the beach, the playground to his left, and some scattered around their cars in the parking lot.  A teenage boy with the most perfect body lay with his arms over his head on his beach towel, showing the world his armpit hair and his six pack abs.  His body was brown, tanned by hours spent soaking rays.  Next to him was his girl in her bikini, sporting her perfectly tanned teenage body.  The world must seem so simple to them.  Oh, how he envied them, as he tried to pass by without kicking any dirt.

An older, morbidly obese lady a t-shirt meant to cover her body, yet failing as her apron hung out from under it, staining his vision, haunting his mind.  He looked around her for a path to take to the beach.  As he looked over her head he couldn't help but look into the sky. There was one cotton ball cloud overhead, and to the left was a line of exhaust where a jet was guiding through the sky.  And along the skyline of the water he could see the dark outline of a sailboat.  And immediately above that, in the sky, he could see an object.

"Daddy?" Carrie wailed.  He turned and saw that Carrie had decided to lean out of the sled.  She was half in and half out, more out than in.  He stopped pushing the sled, and watched as his daughter fell the rest of the way out.  She looked up and was smiling despite the sand that was now on her face.  She sat on her butt.  "Bucket," she said.  "Bucket."

Rick smiled.  He picked her up, brushed her off, and placed her back in the sled.  Despite interrupting her plans, she was still happy as happy is.  Clarice helped her daddy by putting her arms around Carrie.  "I'm helping you," she said.  "I'm helping you, da da."

"Thank you so much," Rick said, and started his march around the fat lady again.  Before long he wended his way though the sun bathers and a group of kids tossing a Frisbee and found an available spot in the sand only a few yards from the water.  Someone had tried to build a sandcastle by the water. Although it had been washed out by waves, he could still make out where the castle was and the moat around it.

He watched as Clarice jumped out of the sled, grabbed a yellow shovel and a yellow pale, and rushed to this spot. She sat on her butt in the mushy water of the moat and started digging.  "Come on, da da.  Get Carrie so you can help me."

Rick grabbed a towel from the bag and spread it out for the girls.  Then he did the same for himself, although he suspected he wouldn't have much of a chance to lie on it. The girls wouldn't give him a chance to relax and soak up rays.  The main goal today was to spend time with his birthday girls and relax in that way.  His goal today was to forget that his wife was in an accident; to forget that an 85-year-old man smashed into her as she was waiting at the intersection.  His goal was to forget seeing her lifeless body on the hospital bed.  His goal was to forget that there was no life insurance.  His goal was to forget his stupidity.

Within a half hour he had refurbished the sand castle, and somehow convinced his daughters to keep their shovels off it.  They were making smaller castles of their own design.  They encouraged their da da to work on the BIG sand castle. Once he felt satisfied he sat on his own butt, and closed his eyes, listening to the soporific din of waves.

After several moments of relaxing as such, he stood up, shed his shirt, tossed it onto his towel, and stepped into the water.  Clarice stepped in the water next to him, her but covered in wet sand.  Rick picked her up, and turned and, with a major effort and a grunt, picked up his baby.  They were both so heavy, so it seemed.

"I can help you," a female voice said.  Rick turned around and saw Missy Perry, the secretary at Shoreline health where he worked the past ten years.  "I can take Carrie if you want."

"Hey, that would be awesome," Rick said.  Now he was conscious of his aging body, and held Clarice so that she was blocking, so he hoped, his 12-pack abs, as so he liked to call his aging abdomen.  "Da da," Clarice wailed, "I'm falling." He shuffled his older girl back to where she was, exposing all his upper body.  "No one cares what your body looks like," Marie's voice shot through his head.  "Most guys on this beach look worse than you, and they don't care.  So why should you?"

"So you getting by okay," she said, as the two trudged through waves into deeper water.  "We all are praying for you and missing you at the office."

"I want to go REAL DEEP!" Clarice shouted.

"REEE DEEE!" Carrie repeated.

"Things are going great," Rick lied.  "I'm doing great."

"That's good.  You've been through so much."

"I'm glad you're here," Rick said, changing the subject, "It gets kind of heavy lugging two kids out here.  They love the water."

"I can see."  Carrie was hugging Missy's neck firmly.  Clarice, on the other hand, was leaning down at the water, slapping it.  As her butt was under water, and then her belly, her slapping was getting Rick wet.  He said nothing, enjoying the fact that she was just so happy.

"Rick, look!" Missy said, pointing at the sky.  "I swear that looks like a U.F.O."

Rick looked up.  "It's a flying saucer."  Rick looked around and saw that just about everyone on the beach was looking at it, many with their mouths hanging open.  The fat lady, the one he trudged around on the way to the water, the one with her gut hanging out, had her tongue lolling out the side of her mouth.  There was a lot of hymning and hawing, and "Oh my God!" one lady shouted. "What in the world is that," another said.  "Could it be?" another asked.

"Splash water with me, Carrie," Clarice said.  "I love water. Splash. Splash. Splash.

Rick looked back and saw the object had to be a space ship. It hovered over the horizon, outside the covering of that huge white fluffy, cotton ball cloud overhead.  The sun shining brightly off it hard to make out any of the specifics of the ship.

An audible gasp from the bystanders on the beach rang out over the sound of waves as the space craft disappeared in a flash, and all that could be seen where it was was the clear blue sky.  Rick looked around, observing how people, young and old, fat and skinny, all decked in their suits, some in the water, some on the hot sand, were still gazing at the sky, probably hoping it would return.

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