My arms groaned under the weight of the bags filled with groceries and a sharp edge of something poked my hipbone. The air was perfumed with the sweet aroma of the flowers and the spicy tang of the palm fronds. Our green jeep looked too small to fit all the bags and the canvas that had covered the open roof hung lopsidedly off its beam. The gray-green asphalt that matched my eyes was scratchy beneath the tough underside of my bare feet. I threw the groceries into the backseat and turned around to watch my brothers staggering underneath the bags that were too big for their arms to fit around. The wet, navy sky was still streaked with little white remains of nothing. The tall trees were all ribbed with slow circles, brown and green, and they looked so solid, but their skinny necks showed their true fragility. The smell of pizza still lingered in the air from the restaurant near the supermarket. Their baked brick building looked so in place in the midst of the trees that when I pulled back to look at the spilled light from the market on the empty parking light, it was almost disorienting.
My father dropped the rest of the bags unceremoniously into the backseat and clambered into the driver’s seat. James pushed all the bags away from himself and safely buckled in. I headed for the passenger’s seat but was quickly blocked by William, my older younger brother.
“How do you say ‘shotgun’ in French?” He shot me a devilish grin, his eyes looking translucent as the night truly began to fall. The wind picked up and it felt blue, like the sea was waiting to be swept away. I climbed over the sharp edges of the white plastic bags and sat on top of the seat, gripping the bar that previously supported the canvas roof of the car.
“Hold on tight kids,” My father said and recklessly pulled out of the parking lot. We sped up the mountain, the salty breeze blowing the hair away from my face. The night turned the gray mountainside a solid blue, made the sharp points of the cacti look soft and hid the beauty of the palm trees and flowers. When we reached the top point before the turn and the way down, I glanced down at the shore of the island. The boats bobbed uncertainly on the rippling waves and the stars shined up at me from the water and down from the sky. There were no green and red lights of home, just warm white ones. Even the signal for the airport had been turned off in anticipation of the storm. The waves looked friendly, even though the breeze had now really become a wind. They started way out in the middle of the sea as small nothings and then came to the reef and broke off into separate patterns of their own. We made the turn down, and the purple night came rushing forward to meet me. The stars were blurs on an endless canvass, and the waves made rushing sounds that lapped at the air. I breathed out the exhilaration of too much air in my lungs and looked out on our beach. We drove past the bakery where we had gotten breakfast, the windows dark and lonely. We drove past the airport, which was empty and closed and turned into our own driveway, which was flooded with light from the house. The storm was about to start.
I could hear the waves as I walked down to the beach along the path through our front yard. The grass was short and scratchy, not the same kind that grew at home, and the trees hung over the fence, separating our house from the neighbors’. Once I got down the wooden steps my feet sunk into the moonlit sand and I could feel the grains settle between my toes, but tonight I couldn’t sense their rough surface, only the soft sensation, as if I were walking on pillows. I watched the waves, crash and break, crash and break. I could taste the storm in the air, I could feel it all around me and I loved it. I walked into the water slowly, my feet just touching the edge. The waves were big and powerful now and they scared me. I dove under one just as it was about to break on top of me. I floated up and down with the coming and going waves and stared at the purple sky, swimming in the black water. I knew that I would have to leave eventually, but floating in circles with the violet sky rushing toward me, I was forever falling.
Sophia McCreary, Age 14, Grade 8, Trinity School, Silver Key