“Did I ever tell you what I believed as a child?”
“No, what?” He listened with half an ear. His attention caught by her excited energy. Everything was new to her, as if she had been kept in a glass jar. Seeing and hearing everything in a world that could shatter at any moment. He could see from her every movement she was ready to burst; to stave off an anxiety attack and to calm her down, he sat her on a blanket and put a plastic shopping bag in her hands. “Here, sit. Tell me while you open this.”
She laughed when she pulled a red plastic shovel and a pail from the bag and immediately began digging in the sand and filling the bucket. “You’re so silly, Malachi.”
“Calmed you down, didn’t it?”
“Only for that moment.” She ran off and came back. “Oh, my God Malachi I can’t believe this. I’ve felt sand before, but it never felt like this. So warm and then wet. Hurry so we can get in the water. Stop being such an old man and let’s go play.” Her impatience was written all over her and he laughed. Running to grab the hat that rolled across the sand and plopping it back on her head.
“You have to hold the hat on or the wind will keep blowing it away.”
Ramming the pole of the beach umbrella as deep in the sand as possible, he ran after her. Lifting her in mid stride, running on and continuing until he was chest deep in the water before lifting her small frame and dropping her unceremoniously. The cold from the water was like a shock of electricity and she screamed. Bouncing up once before rising, spluttering, wide eyed and sinking again. For a moment he stood frozen, terrified and cursing himself for not even knowing if she could swim. When she didn’t surface again, he dived in, petrified when he couldn’t find her. Swimming in agitated circles, he searched in vain, coming up when he could no longer breathe only to have his head trapped in a headlock and forced back down. Grabbing Paisley by the waist, he held her above water, examining her with the horrified expression of an anxious parent.The laughter escaping her at the mixture of relief and anxiety written all over his face.
“I thought I’d drowned you.” There was no laughter in his voice.
“I can swim you know.” She laughed again. Flapping her feet in the air in swimming motions.
“No, I didn’t know. How would I know? And where did you go? I didn’t see you under the water.” “Of course you didn’t, that was my intention. Serves you right for throwing me in when you didn’t know whether or not I would drown.” She splashed a few hands full of water in his face. And quickly swam away. Stopping a few feet out of his reach to taunt him with his inability to keep up. “I’m a lot faster in the water than I am on land.”
“Wait until I get you.”
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