Title: "Watermelon dreams"
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She had been dreaming of those flip flops all spring. Every time Mom dragged us to the bargain basement of Woolworths, my sister would stand in front of the rack of flip flops, gazing at them and sighing deeply. She tried every little trick she knew - at times petulant, pleading, ingratiating, or mutely staring at them. And Mom resisted for the longest time, reminding her that she had a perfectly good pair of flip flops, that had been purchased to replace the pair of flip flops she'd lost, which had been purchased to replace the pair before that....well, you get the idea. Finally, after a week of particularly noteworthy good behavior, homework done every night before tv time, helping dry the dishes without being asked, she got her reward. And boy, was she over the moon about finally owning those flip flops.
Watermelon was absolutely her most favourite of all summer time desserts - she would have climbed right into a watermelon I figure, if she could have. As it was, she delighted in eating pieces almost as big as her head, disappearing into the succulent pinkish red fruit, coming up for air every now and then with the juice running down her chin and arms. The flip flops were just icing on the cake for her, and to everyone's surprise she kept track of them like they were the most precious thing in the world. And I suppose to her they were. She wore them everywhere, except to Sunday school - but only because Mom was strict about our Sunday go to church outfits.
At the end of the summer, we went off to the beach for our family vacation. Dad worked hard, and all he ever wanted to do for a vacation was to drive out to one place, and park his butt on the sand for two weeks. Some of my friends' families had cottages, or rented cottages, but Dad liked to save a little money and camp at one of the provincial parks. "Have us a little adventure" he'd say. My sister and I loved it, at least when we were younger, but Mom always got a little tense leaving the comfort of home behind. We'd pitch a big ol' canvas tent that got hot and very close in the summer sun, but retained a little heat that kept us warm when the nights cooled off. Mom would sit on a lawn chair at the beach, reading her book under a big sun hat, and occasionally wading into the lake for a "wee dip" in the water. My sister and I would run into the waves time after time until we fell exhausted in the sand. And Dad would go for a swim to cool off, and then sit and roast in his chair, just gazing out at the water. He and my sister turned dark brown from the sun, but Mom and I always had to look out or we'd get beet red. I remember one summer having a burn so bad I could barely walk back to the tent at the end of the day. At night, my sister lay down in her sleeping bag, those watermelon flip flops laid out like fetishes beside her.
The last day of the vacation, as I helped my parents take down the tent and load up the car, my sister took one final walk down to the beach to collect shells and stones to take home as souvenirs. Pretty soon her hands and pockets were full, the sweat was dripping down her face and she decided to cool off in the water. Not having a free hand to carry those magic flip flops, she left them on the beach intending to put them back on when she got out of the water. But while she was still wading, my Dad honked the car horn impatiently, wanting to get on the road and my sister ran out of the lake and hopped in the car dripping sweat and lake. We were about an hour from the beach when Mom asked her where the flip flops were. I think she mourned the loss for maybe fifteen minutes, then was soon giggling over a game of "I spy". I sometimes pictured those flip flops waiting patiently on the promenade at the beach, missing her more than she was missing them.