Friday, August 9, 2013

Let Me Take a Moment

Let Me Take a Moment

Today is the last good day.

The sand creeps into my shorts, my underwear, scratching my skin and searing it at the same time. I’m sitting directly in the sun. It covers and coats me like melted butter on popcorn and I don’t want to move. The minute I do, it’s over. This moment will be gone.

My sister’s legs frame my view of the ocean. Mom and Dad are behind us. Derek is beside me. I feel his eyes on me wondering if I’ll move. Not knowing what to say. Trying to find the right thing to say himself but there’s nothing to say. There’s nothing to do but let this last as long as it can.

The waves start tumbling in on themselves and I between the crash and the air, the seagulls, and my sister’s giggles mixed with sighs at my little brother. I try to absorb every bit of it in my skin and hold on.

There’s salt in the air and a kind of cleanliness to the breeze, the scent of ocean you can only get from the beach that reminds me of when I was a kid. Reminds me of when I knew nothing about what Mom and Dad really did. Reminds me that Derek used to be my best friend, still is, but he wants something more I notice when his fingers creep in the sand to try and grab mine but then move away like a spider sensing something off. He kissed me yesterday. After I balled and told him everything about Mom and Dad.

“We’ll be leaving for sure now. We have to.” I’d told him and that’s when he kissed me. Put his lips on mine and I had no idea what to make of it but I let his kiss linger.

His mom came by soon enough and he pulled away. She looked at us both cautiously, or curiously. Usually she left us be but she searched me up and down before sucking her teeth and leaving without a word.

“Reg,” he said but I ran off.

Soon as I got up the road to our trailer Mom and Dad were packing things up. The evidence, the pilfered items, everything, leaving behind what we may have prized but what wasn’t going to give anyone a trace of where we’d gone and what they’d done.  

My sister and brother pushed into me in the backseat, luggage, bedspreads, food, and coolers bookending us on either side of the Caddy. Dad driving like a maniac and Mom fumbling and rustling the map in her lap. The two of them bickering at each other over how fast to go, when they thought they saw a patrol car, who should be on the look out, and whatnot. But at the same time they cooed to us like nothing was up when they heard my brother sniffle.

My sister begged for us to hit the beach. She went through her moods. Holding her breath until she got her way morphed into screaming so loud that she would’ve been backhanded had Mom and Dad not wanted to draw attention to themselves.

“We’ll stop at the goddamn beach. Pain in my...” Mom shushed Dad. So he went on slapping at the bugs flying into the cracked windows in the car.

My siblings and I practically burst out of the backseat, items toppling out and us falling over them. They ran. I walked. Wanting to experience every footprint in the sand. Every breath. Every free moment we had here thinking about Derek the whole time.

“Five minutes!” Dad screeched. He was practically hopping from foot to foot when Mom came around the car to him and put an arm that set him still.

I sat down and didn’t look back. Until he said my name.

“Hey Reg,” Derek said.

I won’t look at him. I won’t. Cause if I do, my heart will break.

“How’d you get here?”

“I kinda followed you.”

“Stalk much?” I didn’t mean it to be a joke but he laughed anyways. He planted his body in the sand.

“You can stay with me, with us.”

“Not all three of us.”

I heard the heaviness in his breath when he replied. “No, not all three.”

“I won’t leave them. And my parents...” They won’t give us up without a fight.

“I’m not judging anybody, Reg. I didn’t think you’d be going anywhere. I never said anything cause--”

I pinched his thigh but he kept going. “I’ve wanted to say something--”

“Shut up.


Now, my eyes are on the horizon, on the ground and the sky splitting itself into two different colors. The giggles pervade but so does something in the distance. A piercing that isn’t the seagulls above or my brother or sister nearby.

“Kids let’s go!” My mom shouts, shrill and loud the wind picks it up and carries it to me sending a shiver up and down me.

Derek finally grabs my hand. “You can stay,” he says.

The sirens start in. I hear feet sinking in sand, thumping as they run, the spraying of the wet sand on dry and car doors slamming open and shut. The scrape of items off the road and bodies shuffling themselves in and out.

“Reggie!” they yell behind me. “Reg,” Derek says beside me. And I’m torn. Not wanting to leave either of them, any of them. It’s the last good moment I have. The sirens get closer, soon there’ll be the wail and the lights, and it’ll all be done. Everything Mom and Dad did, their comeuppance, us separated. I see me with outstretched arms at my siblings crying for them, crying for my parents, crying for Derek. And no matter what I choose, I lose.

I suck up the tears and spit in the sand ready to stand, but my knees don’t straighten, my legs don’t move. I’m stuck wanting to absorb every last second until it’s too late. 

Story by: Jenn Baker
Photo by: Fadzly @ Shutterhack


  1. I like this. . .I love the decision by indecision ending, I can feel the urgency and the reluctance and fear. Nice.

    1. Thanks, Maria! Means a lot. Hope your writing is going well also and that we get to see more of it. :o)

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  3. Great story - really love the first line.