A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach

A Story by Alice Poppy
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Aron has always wanted to go to the ocean, he lives for the surf and the sand, but Hacob;s never had the money for it. Now Ray has given him a chance and he's taking it, if only things stayed awesome.

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A Day at the Beach


5:32

    “Daddy?” Maybe if I don’t react he’ll go away …


    “Daddy.” Just a bit longer. Come on kiddo, get bored, go back to bed.


    DADDY!” I jolted up at the sharp, high-pitched cry. Aron smiled. “Yay, you’re up now! That means we can go to the beach now, right? ‘Cause you promised?” I groaned and flopped back down onto my pillow. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but it felt like I had only put Aron to bed a few minutes ago.


    “Pumpkin, I said we could go tomorrow.” Aron pouted. It was pretty hard to see him in the dark, but judging by the two triangular shadows on top of his head, and feeling of rubber souls digging into my rib-cage, I’d say he was all dressed for his day. This isn’t going to be easy, is it?


    “Daddy it is tomorrow! It’s been tomorow for exactly five hours and thirty-two minutes.” He pointed to the alarm clock by my bed and we both watched as the number changed. “Thirty-three minutes.” He corrected. I sighed and could just barely make out his intensely determined features through the shadows of the early morning. Guess it’s time to confuse the little tyke, make him cry a little, and then get back to bed.


    “But Pumpkin, if it’s tomorrow now, as in we are currently in tomorrow, then that means it’s today, not tomorrow, and I said that I’d take you to the beach tomorrow.” Aron’s face scrunched up.


    “But… but you said that yesterday…” I cocked my head to the side.


    “Said what?” Aron jumped and looked at me wide-eyed.


    “What do you mean ‘said what!’ The thing about the beach!” I shook my head gravely.


“Not ringin’ any bells, Pumpkin. Could you give me a recap of the conversation?” Now come the tears.


    “You said yesterday that we could go to the beach tomorrow, which is today, but then you said today that today was today and not tomorrow but it has to be tomorrow because we’re talking relative to the yesterday that you mentioned yesterday and,” Aron hiccupped in anxiety. That probably means the tears are just about ready “And you didn’t mention a yesterday yesterday but that’s okay because that’s our yesterday Daddy, it’s ours and that means that we’re going- we- we’re going?” Aron hiccuped again and I pulled him down so he was lying next to me. I closed my eyes and prepared to sleep again as Aron continued to hiccup and try to piece together how we could be in “today’s tomorrow.” I could feel a little bit of wetness of my chest.


“Hmm, sorry Pumpkin. This sounds like a weird dream. Let’s dream it’s morning time, alright?” A felt Aron give a quick nod and curl up into a ball.


I’m a great dad.


9:34

    “C’mon Pumpkin! Rise and shine, Uncle Tommy’s gonna be here soon!” I was sitting in my kitchen, feeling much more prepared for the day than earlier this morning, working on some omelets, cheese for the boy and a culinary masterpiece with peppers and bacon for me. I smiled at the resounding squeal that tore through the apartment. Aron has never been to the beach, we never had the gas money to go, but the kid absolutely lived for the ocean. As soon as Aron had learned that there were things that could live and breathe underwater, he was hooked. He would check out every fish book he could find when the bookmobile stopped by on Tuesdays, and whenever we went to the park Aron would run over to the big pond in the middle and start telling me everything he knew about the fish that lived there. He was a sweet kid, always tried his best to understand what I said and why I said it. He never whined when I told him we couldn’t go, he only ever asked if he thought money was good and if I was in the type of mood to deal with discussing costly trips to the beach, but no matter how understanding he was my heart would always break when that big, hopeful smile would vanish for a second while he tried to find something about my rejection that made the situation better, and he always would. Claiming that it was okay that we couldn’t go this time because there was bound to be a grumpy seagull who would fly over and wreck our nice big picnic, or that some other family was going to have the best trip ever now because we weren’t there to take the perfect spot, right behind the big, craggy rocks where the little kids could climb and play while the parents chatted and teased each other’s climbing skills. But it always seemed to me that while he was making up reasons why it was OK that we couldn’t go, he had come up with a few great things we could have done there as well. This realisation usually came only moments before I also realized Aron wasn’t in front of me anymore. That he had walked off to go sit by the window and look at the old painted advertisement on the building next door that I swear was put there just to mock him and to make me feel like a terrible father. The mural was pretty old, about a good forty years, with a beautiful blonde cartoon girl in a bikini laying back in a beach chair on some bright sunny beach where the sand was white, sippin’ on some fruity drink with an umbrella in it, a dolphin jumped out of the gorgeous blue water behind her. Ever since I moved in I’ve hated that thing. It blocked the view of the sunset that took place on the other side, but since my building came after the one this was painted on, I couldn’t really do anything. After Aron moved in though, my hatred of that damn painting grew tenfold. Because the most insulting this on it by far was the caption, it was written in big, white, swirly letters and I know it drove Aron crazy.


    Oh the Things You’ll See at the Sea!


    I don’t even know why it’s painted here, we’re about a five hour drive from a beach you can swim in safely, but damn, Aron would stare at that mural all day if you let him, and you could always tell by how quiet he got that he was thinking about what it must be like there. He was dying to know if that really happened, if you could just lay back and watch dolphins jump out of the water. He tried to make do with his books, learning that the only dolphin you’re likely to see from the shore are bottlenose dolphins because they live in shallow water, but it will never be the same. Until today.


    My son charged around the corner and hopped up onto his chair. Now that it was daytime (With the sun up and everything!) I could see that he was wearing his traditional kitty-cat jacket over a blue t-shirt with crabs sitting on a bunch of rocks, the pair of swimming trunks I’d gotten him about a week ago, also blue, and the little blue sneakers with turtles that Ray had bought him.


    They’re green sea! Aron had squealed in excitement after inspecting the shoes thoroughly. I can tell because of the color and how their jaws look, did you know that sea turtles have different jaw shapes to deal with their different diets? And that green sea turtles tend to stay near Hawaii and they have babies in holes on the beach! Then they leave the babies, but that’s okay because then the babies crawl out of the hole and squirm their way to the water. I think that’s what all sea turtles do with their babies but I can’t ‘member for sure” His little rant had earned a few chuckles and a nod of respect from Drew for being able to remember all of that. I was pulled from my thoughts by a few, soft, rapid-fire knocks at my door. Aron covered his mouth with his hands to keep from squealing, since it made Tom’s ears bleed. I don’t know how, but the little guy seemed to have every person in the family’s knock remembered so he always knew who was at the door. He’s a smart kid. I walked over to the door, putting the omelets down on the table as I passed. I reached the door and pulled it open.


    “Hey man! You’re early!” Tom blinked at me, then looked at his watch.


    “Oh, Hell,” He glanced back up at me. “Should I come back later?” I shook my head and stepped aside so Tom could enter the apartment. He didn’t look to much different than when I last saw him, still had the same black hair that was in dire need of a good cut, maybe I’ll help Gramps hold him down while he does the job, same crap t-shirts with some stupid saying on them, today’s monstrosity featured a series of Darth Vader faces with emotions listed underneath them, and the same under-eye bags that any insomniac high schooler with a laptop has. Really this kid needs to switch it up, just a little bit. I led Tom into the kitchen and Aron squirmed in his seat, immediately making grabby hands at Tom’s shirt. Despite my endless attempts he still found the things hilarious. Tom stretched out his shirt a little so Aron could see it properly and I spoke up.


    “So Nerd Boy, you have breakfast yet?” Tom shook is head and he just might have blushed a little. I laughed and turned back to the stove. “Go ‘head and have mine, I’ll make another.” I heard a chair scrape across the floor and Aron burst out laughing. Guess he finally got the joke. I didn’t even try to suppress the knowing smirk I formed when I heard Tom’s fork eagerly scrapping at the plate. Kid probably planned this, come over early without breakfast just so I’d cook him something. I was the second best chef in the family, Gramps beating me by miles. Though, it’s not like it’s hard to earn that title. James could burn water, Ray didn’t bother with anything you couldn’t order or eat raw, Tom lived off instant noodles, Drew only made little things like bagels and toast because we’re all to stupid to know how to make those right, and I learned how to cook straight from Gramps who had spent a year or two traveling across Europe and picking things up along the way. The only reason the family would ever make a plan to have a meal I made is because I don’t make it all fancy like Gramps does. I make the easy stuff, but I make it well. If Gramps made an omelet you’d end up with some super healthy, low calorie thing with a freaking edible flower. By the time I was sat down and starting on my new omelet, Tom was all done and leaning back in his chair. He’d given Aron his phone so he could check what the weather would be like today.


    “So what’d Ray do to get you to agree to this?” Tom asked. I took a big bite of my breakfast and spoke through the egg, making Tom cringe.


    “Nothing, Nerd Boy. Aron and I’ve been wanting to head to the beach for a while now. Spending the day with you losers is just payment.” Tom gave a fake laugh and I smiled.


    Today is gonna be fun.


11:26

Today is not fun.


    We’ve been in traffic for over an hour now. I’m almost out of cigarettes because I forgot to grab a new pack on my way out the door, Aron is getting antsy in the back, and we’re just far enough out of the city that all we have to listen to on the radio is static. I looked over at Tom who was looking nervous. He was gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were turning white, his eyes kept flicking over to me, then the road, and back to me.


“What!” He cried anxiously, glancing back at the road. I don’t see why though, it’s not like we’re moving. I turned to him and held up my pack of Marlboro.


“I have two cigs left.” Tom let out a pathetic whine.


“Don’t hit me” He whimpered. I shook my head.


“I won’t hit you” I soothed.


“Yes you will.”


“No I won’t.”


“Yes you will!”


“Now why would I do that?”


“Because you’re out of cigarettes!”


“No, I’m not” I gave the pack a shake. “I have two left, this is both a warning and an update.” Tom glared at me out of the corner of his eye.


“You’re a psychopath!” I frowned and let my hand flop down into my lap.


“Why would you say that?” I asked, a bit of hurt slipping into my voice. “I thought you didn’t want to get hit” Tom groaned and hit his head on the steering wheel. Aron let out a cry of excitement from the back.


“That’s Ray and Drew’s car!” He squealed. I looked out the window and back a bit and sure enough, there was Ray’s powder blue 2014 lexus IS in the lane next to us, just a car behind. I scrunched up my nose at the idiot who was currently waving like a loon in the front seat, a bored looking ten year old sat next to him looking like he was ready to hit something, I was hoping he’d aim for the idiot next to him. Aron squealed again and waved out the back window with matching enthusiasm. Ray’s lane moved up and I’m sure Tom and I both cringed in perfect harmony.


    Aron slapped his window eagerly when the car stopped next to us and he was level with Ray’s window. “Roll it down! Roll it down! We could have the first conversation between two cars on a highway ever!” I sighed and looked at Tom. He sent me a desperate look, like: Please don’t encourage this! I sent him one of my own saying: If you don’t do this, we get a screeching child in the back and a whiney Ray calling us for the rest of the ride. It’s hard conveying a whole sentence with just a look like that, but judging from the window that was currently being rolled down behind me, I’d say it worked. I closed my eyes and lit up another cigarette as Aron and Ray started to chat.


    This is going to be a long car ride.


2:40

    I deserve a goddam trophy.


    I managed the whole ride to the coast without hitting a single person. Tom doesn’t count as a person, and since I know I can get Drew to agree with that statement, I’d say I’m in the clear.


    I stepped out of the cramped car and stretched, smiling at the satisfying sound of my bones crackling back into something comfortable. I stepped back and opened Aron’s door, little guy was bouncing in his seat so hard I was worried the crabs on his shirt were gonna get vertigo.


    “Can we go to the beach yet?” I laughed and unbuckled him, balancing him on my hip. The kid was getting big, but no so big that I’d have to put him down anytime soon.


    “Nah Pumpkin, we need to stay here at the motel and wait for Uncle Ray and Uncle Drew to come and bring us food!” As I ended the last sentence I used the monster voice that always made Aron giggle, trying to distract him from the fact that he could see the ocean from the little crap motel we were staying in. Even though Aron did giggle, I’m not sure it worked. His eyes locked with the bright blue water.


    “We probably won’t see any bottlenose here.” He looked back to me. “They prefer to live in warmer waters by places like California, Hawaii, Australia, and Chile” He cocked his head to the side. “Although I think they might like to live here, since they can be spotted in the Atlantic, but they still prefer warm water.” He looked back at the ocean. “Rough toothed dolphins definitely like it here though.” I smiled at him. It was always interesting when he said things like that because he always said it so it sounded like he was currently reading it out of a book. It was a real testament to his memory. I watched his smile grow as Ray and Drew pulled into the parking lot.


    “They have my nuggets!!!!” He roared and I had to put him down if I wanted this trip to be free of visits to the ER. I held Aron’s hand tightly while I waited for them to park. As soon as it was safe I released Aron’s hand and watched in amusement as he ran over and started pawing at Ray’s door muttering “Nuggets nuggets nuggets” under his breath. The two exited the car and Aron immediately ran back and forth between the two looking for his chicken. Drew glared at me and held the bag out of Aron’s sight.


    “This garbage is horrible,” He informed me. “I’m sure he would much rather have a nice caesar salad.” I rolled my eyes but said nothing. He was always trying to get me to give Aron better food options, and don’t get me wrong here, this is one of the few things the kid and I agree on. It would be great if I could get Aron some good food to eat, but that always ends up being the expensive food and we just don’t have the money for it. So now I get to deal with Drew trying to stuff caesar salads down my kid’s throat. I can hardly complain though, Aron will try anything Drew says is good so long as Drew feeds it to him. Ray finally got the little guy to calm down and herded him into our room.


We all chose a spot to eat, except Aron of course, he prefers to roam around the room and visit with everyone. Tom sat cross-legged on the bed farthest from the door with Ray stealing his fries whenever he got the chance, I leaned on the windowsill and quietly munched on the fake meat that Millie’s Chow had to offer, and Drew sat at the table in the corner eating a salad, of the caesar variety just in case you haven’t noticed the pattern, feeding some to Aron between the kid’s excited babble about ocean creatures and his nuggets. I looked out the window and down at the large body of water that was just a few hundred yards away. I could even spot the pier we were going to later for dinner. I felt a smile creep onto my features as I absentmindedly ate the burger and listened to Aron’s constant rambling.


Today might be a bit better than I thought it’d be.


3:20

    Things are really looking good.


    I’d just given Aron the surprise that we were going to an aquarium today, and then we’d stay the night and spend another day at the beach tomorrow. Man, I just might have to thank Ray for being a video-w***e and feeling the need to film Aron’s reaction when we told him. You’d think we told him we were going to Disneyland. His face fell in confusion as he took a second to add up everything I’d told him, then his eyes lit up and he said “No.” It was around this time that the bouncing started and his voice raised an octave. He gave me a chance to back out, to take it back and just head for home, but I told him again “We’re really going, Pumpkin.” and then the screaming started. He leapt into my arms and I might have lost hearing in my right ear for a few hours, but it was worth it. Now we’re off to the East Coast Aquarium. Tom rode with Ray so they could get there early and talk to a friend of Ray’s and set up some special tour for my son (Honestly I just learned about that part. I thought we were just gonna go look at some fish and try to keep Aron from jumping in) while I drove with Drew and Aron.


    We pulled into the parking lot and, after driving around the crowded lot for ten minutes, found a parking spot and made our way to the entrance where we met up with Tom, Ray, and Ray’s friend, Candy.


    “Hey, guys!” She cried cheerfully as we approached. She was a petite girl with the best tan you could get in the east. Her blonde hair fell over her shoulders in large curls, she wore a pair of khaki shorts and a blue t-shirt with the words East Coast Aquarium, Dude! written in bubble letters across the chest. “Welcome to the East Coast Aquarium! I’m Candy.” She held out her hand and Aron quickly snatched it up, giving it a friendly, eager shake.


    “It’s so nice to meet you, Candy! I love your earrings, are those dolphins? They’re beautiful! My name’s Aron B-to-the-T-to-the-Way.” He gave her a proud smile. Candy smiled back down at him.


    “It’s very nice to meet you too Aron, and thanks for the compliment, I bet you say that to all the nice girls, huh?”


    “Only the ones who’re as sweet as you are, Candy.” Aron winked and Candy blushed. She probably expected the roles to be reversed here, but she doesn’t know my son, he’s going to be an absolute lady killer when he gets older. Ray snorted behind her. She turned and poked him in the chest.


    “You just lost my number.” She hummed.


    “Bet’cha I can find it again.” Ray flirted back shamelessly, Drew mimed stuffing a finger down his throat, and Tom rolled his eyes. I had just thought of something witty to do in return when Aron spoke up.


    “Too late Unkie Ray, I already dibbed it.” Ray scoffed.


    “You can’t ‘dib’ a lady, Aron.”


    “You did on the way here.” Ray froze completely. Moving only his eyes, he gave Aron the world’s best Stop Talking look I’ve ever seen. Being my son, Aron continued. “You said on the highway that there was a ‘total knock-out, blonde hottie’ that you ‘call dibs on.’” He looked back at Candy. “I wouldn’t place a claim like that until we were friends first,” He held out his hand. “Wanna look at fishes with me?” Candy shot Ray a smug look and grabbed my son’s hand.


    “Why I’d love to Aron. C’mon, let’s go. I’ve got a special tour planned.” The two started off and Ray made a small choking noise, he looked a little scared. Being the good, supportive brothers we were, Tom, Drew, and I all laughed at him. His shoulders slumped and he muttered a defeated “C’mon” and we started off into the aquarium.


9:07

    The tour actually went better than expected. Aron was so busy flirting with Candy, and losing his mind at all to cool fish stuff he was allowed to do, that he didn’t ask to jump in a pool once! Ray was a little pissed off though because Aron did manage to get Candy’s number. I don’t see why though, I figured our designated Man-W***e would be proud of my son for this little accomplishment. Apparently not. Even after Aron agreed to let Ray call her every once and awhile. He was so unsubtle about the whole thing that Aron petitioned we get some ice cream for him. We all agreed and that quickly turned into walking around town, eating saltwater taffy and fudge, and trying on funny sun hats. It took everything we had to convince Ray and Aron that I didn’t need a large orange sun hat. After a few hours of walking around we realized that the sun was going down so he we started for the pier. The pier was definitely going to be my favorite part of the  trip, or it would have been, had things not gone horribly wrong.



    I might have mentioned earlier how we were worried that Aron would jump into the big tanks at the aquarium, well I guess he didn’t because it just wasn’t the real thing. Poor baby was getting tired from all the walking we did so Drew agreed to give him a piggyback ride for a while. After walking about a fourth of the way down the pier we decided that if we wanted a conscious child to join us for dinner, then we had better do something to keep him awake. So we had him start to walk with us again. We made it another fourth of the way down the pier before Aron realized where we were and things started to go bad. No, they didn’t start to go bad, things were just suddenly bad.


    Aron blinked his tired little eyes at the world around him and suddenly realized that he could hear the water, the ocean, and that he was standing right on top of it. After much squealing Drew agreed to take him ahead of the group so they could stand at the railing for awhile while we caught up. They didn’t go too far, since it was dark and I’m a dad, but it was far enough. Tom and I were just starting to voice our concerns about Ray and his Cartoon Obsession when, from not too far ahead of us, we heard two young voices scream.


    “OCEAN!”


    “ARON NO!!” My head snapped up, just in time to see my son’s bright purple and pink cat-jacket disappear over the side of the railing. It took me two seconds too long to realize that there was no ground under that pier, only open ocean.


    “ARON!” I turned into a man gone crazy. I had no control over my actions in that moment. I ran full tilt towards where my son had fallen and leaped over the rail. I could vaguely hear people calling my name from above, but that didn’t really register. All I could focus on right now was the little blob of color that was currently hacking up salt water and surrounded by black sea. I hit the water and learned what people were really talking about when they said: “water tension” what those people should have said was: “That stupid layer of water that likes to pretend to be concrete when it has nothing better to do.” I’m serious, if I hadn’t been on such a one-track-mind I probably would have screamed at the sudden burst of pain that slammed into my face and body. Instead my only thought was: How much did that hurt Aron?


    I burst from the water and looked around, people were definitely screaming above me, but one voice stood out and it was coming from somewhere to my left.


    “DADDY! I-- cough cough --I CAN’T BREATH!!” My heart froze and I turned towards the voice. There he was, bobbing and hacking in the water, trying to stay afloat and only barely succeeding. I could hear him sobbing. It was about this time when I realized we never considered Aron’s swimming abilities before deciding to go to the beach, sure he could swim, but the ocean was nowhere near the community pool. I swam over to him as quickly as I could. After what felt like an eternity, I wrapped my arms around my soaking wet boy held him closely to my chest, giving the most comforting hug I could while treading water.


“Shh shh Pumpkin, it’s okay, we’ll be alright.” He continued to cough and cry so I held him closer and started trying to find shore. I didn’t think it would be so hard, but it was dark and I was all turned around after the jump.


    “TO SHORE!” The chorus of people on the pier cried to me. I looked around some more and they quickly realized why I wasn’t moving.


“TURN AROUND!


“IT’S BEHIND YOU!”


“THE GUARD WILL MEET YOU HALFWAY!”


I’m not sure how much I trusted that last one, but at least I had a direction. I moved my sobbing child into a better position and started off. The swim was nearly unbearable, I swallowed enough salt to spare me from the blandest of fries, Aron had stopped coughing but he was so tired and cold I was scared what would happen if I didn’t get to shore fast enough, and the water seemed hell bent on drowning us both. The ocean hadn’t seemed all that wild earlier, and I’m not sure it was at all, but you try being cold and tired and carrying a small child to shore while also being weighed down by your clothes and trying to make it over the naturally huge waves. Aron wasn’t to bad, but I was wearing a pair of jeans and a thick long-sleeved shirt, not to mention my hoodie. I felt like I was carrying a tent on my back. Don’t ask me why I wore that to a beach, looking back I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but I can promise you I never did it again.


It took longer than I would have liked, but after awhile the coast guard finally found us and we were hauled up on deck. I could hear cheering from people who had followed my progress up on the pier that I actually forgot about during this whole ordeal. They put towels over my son and I and started to do the standard tests to make sure we weren’t going to die. Despite my wishes they had to work on me first so to show Aron that it was safe, and that he didn’t need to be afraid of the people trying to help us. They finished us up just as we got to the docks and there were my brothers, waiting for me. They were all horrified by what happened, Drew looked especially guilty, but I didn’t care. I was wet, cold, tired, and hungry. I just wanted to get to a warm bed and lay there for a long time with my son and remind myself that he was here, that he was okay. Ray said something and I replied with a grunt. Aron wasn’t doing much better, he hasn’t left my arms since I grabbed him in the water. He didn’t try to.


This trip turned bad fast.



4:47

    “Daddy?” I cracked an eye at my son. It was really late, or maybe it was early, and I had just gotten to sleep so I didn’t really want to talk right now, but I dare you to try to ignore your pride and joy not even a full day after they nearly drowned.


    “Wha’punkin.” I slurred out. Aron shifted nervously and kept quiet as I tried to wake up. After I was fully among the living I took the chance to get a good look at my kid.


    He was sitting on his knees quietly beside me on the bed, his hair was a mess and his blue dolphin pj’s were rumpled. He squeezed his little toy lion, Leo, closer to his person. He’s had that toy since before I adopted him.


    “Do you hate me now?” I jumped at the question and quickly turned my attention back to my child.


    “Why would I hate you?” He glanced up at me in the dark and then quickly looked down. I think I saw a few tears.


    “‘Cause I jumped.” He whispered. I sighed and pulled Aron into my lap. I threw my brothers a quick glance and saw that only Tom was awake.


    Dibbs on Tom sleeping in the double chair bed! Tom doesn’t get to vote ‘cause it’s about him!


    I agree with Jacob!


    Guys c’mon!


    Shut up Thomas, majority rules!


    I chuckled at the memory before sobering up for this conversation.


    “Baby, I don’t hate you for that. I know it was bad, you know it was bad, your punishment was being afraid when it happened, I just want to forget about this and have it be tomorrow already.” Aron nodded as I talked. He slumped against my chest and closed his eyes. Poor baby was so tired.


    “I want it to be tomorrow too.” He murmured. He sniffled and I held him closer. Tom shifted in his “bed,” he was trying to be both respectful and snoopy, not something that tends to mix very well. I started to rock Aron, trying to get him to sleep, but I knew only one thing could do that now. I was just waiting for him to ask.


    “Daddy, can we go sit outside?” There it is. I nodded silently and picked him up and made for the door.


Fwoomp.


I was almost out when I felt something hit me in the back. I turned around and saw Tom rolling over, a quick glance at the ground showed what he’d thrown. Aron’s now dry kitty jacket. I leaned down and picked it up, grunting my appreciation at him, before heading outside.


    I stood there in silence for a moment, just staring out at the cold, dark parking lot. I could hear the ocean out to my left, it sounded so peaceful I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter towards it. I walked over to the edge of the walkway and looked down at the cars we drove out here in. I’m not sure why they seemed so interesting, but I stared at them for a few solid minutes. I only stopped when I felt Aron shiver and remembered just how cold it is. I sat down against the wall by our door and sat Aron down in front of me. He kept his head hung as I put his jacket on for him. I’ve always hated when he got like this, when he does something wrong and decides he shouldn’t talk or move for the longest time. I put him back in my lap and leaned against the wall some more. He tucked his head under my chin as I stared at the stars, though I had to crane my neck a bit to see past the overhang of the roof.


    And there we sat for the next half hour. Aron was lucky he got his jacket ‘cause after a while it got near freezing outside. I didn’t mind though, despite my lack of shirt and the thin sweatpants I had on it was really easy to ignore the cold, I’ve slept outside in worse. Aron was still crying and hadn’t even come close to falling asleep, though I knew he was trying to correct both those things and I was getting tired of him being so sad and quiet. Finally, I got an idea.


    “Hey, Pumpkin.” I began, shifting my son back so he was facing me and pretending to grab a camera. “C’mon look at me. If you’re gonna be all sad and s**t we’re at least making a bit of money for it.” He frowned and sniffled again.


    “Huh?” He asked. I smiled and held my imaginary camera to my eyes.


    “Sweet, beautiful! That’s perfect Pumpkin! Keep that face!” I cleared my throat and began to sing.


    “In the aaaarms on an angle, fly awaaaay from here!” Aron stifled a laugh. I continued my “commercial.”


    “For just three easy payments of $9.99 a week you can put an end to this poor child’s endless suffering.” I started to hum the song, since I don’t know the words after the chorus, and moved my “camera” closer to Aron’s face, he was having a real hard time keeping the giggles at bay now. My hands were right in his face, pressed right up against his forehead and nose when I started to talk again.


    “Won’t you help this poor child?” Aron snorted with the effort required to not laugh, I slapped his side lightly and said in a playfully harsh whisper, “Can it kid, we’re losing money with each snicker!” Aron burst at this point. I pulled the “camera” back and looked through the hole in my hands at his smiling face. I hurriedly rushed out the next line.


    “disclaimer:AllprocedesfromtheSaveTheAronFoundationwillbeputintomypersonalwallet, noneofthemoneyyousendinwillbeputtowardsthechildyouseeinthiscomercial, that’snotevenarealchild, it’samonkey.” Aron fell back onto my knees and shrieked a little more.


    This might be a good trip after all.


10:30

    Things are really looking up.


    After being woken up at around ten, apparently we both had fallen asleep outside on accident, everyone got dressed in some decent clothes and we headed off to a “secret location.” Really I think Ray is just being an idiot again, but whatever.


    The drive wasn’t too long, maybe twenty minutes at most, and then we were there. Tide pools. I was honestly shocked, I figured we were just gonna go grab a burger or something before heading home. The two cars pulled to a stop and we all climbed out. Aron held my hand tightly as he scanned the large rocks, watching what few people that were there cry out in excitement at the starfish they were finding.


    “Are you sure this is safe and stuff Unkie Ray?” Aron asked. I wanted to punch someone for all the fear I heard in his voice. Ray just smiled and picked him up, balancing the young boy on his hip.


    “Only if you stay within the circle!” The older man chirped happily. Aron’s eyes doubled in size.


    “Where’s the circle!” He shrieked. I wanted to tell him that Ray was just being an a*s, as usual, but the b*****d responded before I could form the words.


    “About a mile back the way we came.” Aron began to scream.


    “BACK TO THE CIRCLE! BACK TO THE CIRCLE!” He was flailing and starting to cry when I snatched him from Ray.


    “Baby, Uncle Ray is just being a rude a*s-hat, there is no safrty circle ‘cause we don’t need one. Okay?” Aron whimpered and clung to me. Everyone over the age of five and under the age of twenty-four in our little group glared at Ray. He bit his lip to keep the smile at bay.


    “We’re pushing you in the water.” Drew informed. Aron immediately spoke up.


    “Make sure there’s no sea cucumbers nearby when you do it! They shoot their innards out their tush when they get scared.” I smiled at my little fact supplier and quickly decided to distract him from the whole “safety circle” thing.


    “Really? Never knew that, do they ever get ‘em back in?” I bounced Aron on my hip as I walked towards the rocks.


    “Yeah, sometimes, other times though they just leave it behind to escape.” I set him down at the edge of the rocks.


    “Can ya show me one?” He hummed in thought.


    “I think so… But don’t quote me! I might be wrong.” He grabbed my hand and led me off towards the nearest pool. “You don’t mind if we don’t find one right away, do you?” I smiled.


    “Course not, Pumpkin, just teach me what you know.” Aron smiled widely at the thought of teaching an adult something new. He crouched down at the edge of the pool and started to talk.


    “Alright so this starfish should have five legs, but you can see that it’s only got four right now, so he lost one. That’s okay though because when a starfish loses a leg, a new starfish grows from it! Oh and that urchin right there? You won’t believe what it can do!” It wasn’t long ‘til the other guys walked over and started to listen too, we spent the whole day walking around the tide pools learning things from Aron. At one point we happened by an empty tide pool and Aron happily informed us that it was a safe place to push Ray into.


    I’m pretty sure that this ended up being the best vacation ever.



The End

© 2016 Alice Poppy


Author's Note

Alice Poppy
Sorry this story took a bit of a dark turn, but that's the way things went I guess. Let me know how I did and I hope you enjoyed the story at least a little bit.

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Added on August 23, 2016
Last Updated on August 23, 2016
Tags: Family, Humor, Funny, Single-parent, Beach, Fun, Danger

Author

Alice Poppy
Alice Poppy

Lebanon, OR



About
I'm a pretty young person, going into my sophomore year now if that counts as young, but I've wanted to be an author for ages. I've never really had people who could help me out with that, though, of .. more..

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