Sudden Shifts

You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hale starts descending form the sky. Write a post about what happens next.

The next post will be on time, I promise. Hey, I’ve been on vacation in the land of no internet; cut me some slack.

I never liked the beach. Being a busybody, the idea of driving more than twenty miles to sit and do nothing does not appeal to me at all. Swimming isn’t exactly an option either; I may have swum varsity for five years in middle school and high school, but you will not see me willingly swimming in the ocean. Once, I was at the beach on a family vacation, sitting on a towel people-watching, when all of a sudden, two things happen at once: I see a tiny Asian woman standing up to her knees in the water, grabbing jellyfish by the heads, decapitating them with a practiced shake, and dumping the heads in a bucket, while at the same time, a large, burly man, covered in tattoos and muscles starts taking off toward his motorcycle screaming like a ten-year-old girl, shrieking that he had just been stung by one of the jellyfish. True story.

Not so true story: 

The day at the beach was glorious in all ways but one. The sun was shining, the waves rolled in in a soothing rhythm, and there were laughing children running absolutely everywhere. Even the watermelon tasted better than usual. All this, and I still don’t like beaches. The boys were splashing in the water, my little brother shouting when he thought he saw a jellyfish. My mother and I lay in the sun, burning to a crisp under our beach novels. I had my murder mystery, and she had her romance. Typical. 

I shifted my position for about the thirtieth time in ten minutes, feeling the sand crunch beneath the blanket. Mom shot me a look; stop it Siena.

“I do not feel relaxed at all,” I said from behind my book, knowing full well I may need to use it as a shield.

“We didn’t drive two hours to hear you complain, Siena. Just read,” my mother replied, so I brought the book closer to my face, thinking I might finally become lost in the wild goose-chase taking place in the novel. During the drive to the beach, I could read it just fine; we were getting somewhere, doing something productive. Driving. I looked over at my brother again and considered joining him. I looked back to my book and stopped considering it.

Thud. Something hit the center of my book. Did someone throw a pebble at me? I looked down at my stomach, where a cold, hard piece of hail was starting to melt, making a little pool of water in my belly button.

What the hell…

Thud. Thud. Thuthuthud. More and more little pellets fell from the sky, and soon other people were starting to notice as well. Seconds flew by before it was panic and chaos on the beach. Watermelon slices and castle-building shovels were quickly abandoned as every person on that beach fled the scene, novels and towels held high over their heads for protection. I was faintly aware of my mother shouting at me to join the rest of them, so I took my novel and started hopping through the sand toward the car.

Once we were all settled in the car, I sat back joined everyone else one last time, because every single person in the parking lot was doing the same thing: staring. Just staring. The hail was starting to come down in sheets, beating a chaotic rhythm on the roof of the car, and creating a layer of miniature golf balls on every surface. It was as if the storm had the beach’s entire population in a trance. This was good, right? No more beach time! I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty, though. My mother looked forlornly out of her window back at the water. For her, that romance novel just isn’t as good unless those pages are baking under the hot summer sun with a cool drink in hand.

My little brother coughed. He was over it. “What do we do now?” he asked, shivering in his towel and rubbing leftover sand off the bottom of his bare feet.

I knew what we would do. My family always had a backup plan, and it was the same one every time. Didn’t matter where we were, what time of the year it was, or even what kind of ridiculous weather there was. Surely, not even a freak hail storm could ruin the Good Ol’ Family Backup Plan.

My dad jumped up in the driver’s seat, knowing exactly what my little brother was talking about.

“Who wants ice cream?!” he cried, and off we went.


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