Day 6: The Beach

ligar bay

The next day, the family took it easy. It rained in the morning and there was a big rainbow in the sky. Annie studied it but said the colors were out of order. Annie is very strict about rainbows having colors in the correct order. Her daddy tried to argue with her about this, but Annie was adamant.

They went to the beach after that. They took a kayak and life jackets, and walked down the street to the beach. Mommy, who worried about sunburns, made Annie wear long sleeves. Annie was fine with this, as long as she could wear multiple skirts as well.

Mommy pushed the kayak into the water in a sheltered area, where the waves lapped gently and the water was shallow. She helped Annie get on a life jacket, which Annie allowed without complaint.

“Now, hop in the boat, and we can go out a little bit,” Mommy said to Annie.

“No,” said Annie, staring at the boat with wide, terrified eyes.

“C’mon, it’s okay. I’ll be there with you. I’ll just push you out a little bit so the boat is floating, and then I’ll jump in.”

Annie shook her head, speechless with terror. Why was Mommy trying to kill her? It didn’t make any sense. Finally she managed, “Someone has to hold my hand.”

“Okay,” said Mommy. “I’ll hold your hand. C’mon, get in.”

“No, no, no, no, no!”

Mommy tried to pick her up, but Annie let her arms and body go limp and floppy, like a jellyfish. Her mommy couldn’t hold on to her and dropped her. Annie backed up a few steps, keeping an eye on Mommy. She evaluated the situation. It appeared her mommy was trying to kill her. That was the only conclusion she could draw from the circumstances. Boats, after all, were deadly. She had seen it in Frozen, and in Moana, and pretty much every story she had ever read or seen. It was difficult to say whether Mommy knew this or if Mommy was in ignorance of the fact that she was dancing with death when she talked about getting into a boat. But it didn’t matter – that instinct of preservation was alive in Annie. She didn’t want to die.

Annie’s daddy knelt down and had a long, quiet conversation with her, reassuring her that the boat would be safe and Mommy was good at kayaking. Annie listened dutifully but refused to go in the boat. Nicer parents would have given up, but Annie didn’t have nice parents.

Mommy got into the boat. “C’mon, just sit on my lap. Then Daddy can push us off into the water.”

Annie was skeptical, but this was Mommy, sitting in the boat, looking happy and not afraid. Annie’s conviction that this was a deadly venture wavered slightly. Maybe it was okay? Maybe she wouldn’t die? Mommy was there… Mommy was telling her to get in… Mommy had never deliberately tried to kill her before…

Tentatively, hesitantly, she climbed into the boat and into her mommy’s lap. It was a big, plastic sit-on-top kayak. It had some little holes near the feet, and some water burbled up through the holes.

“Oh no! Oh, no, Mommy, look!” Annie said, her voice rising in panic. “Water is getting in!”

“It’s okay,” said Mommy. “It’s just a little water. It’s fine.”

Mommy clearly knew nothing about boats. The water was supposed to stay outside the boat. It was not supposed to enter into the boat. Holes in the boat meant that the boat was going to sink. And then anyone in the boat would die. Annie knew that.

Daddy was pushing them into the water, in spite of the water splashing up through the holes. The boat started floating, wobbling a little with the tiny waves, as it left the ground. Annie’s parents were trying to kill her.

“Get me out of here! Get me out of here!” Annie shrieked. Her lifejacket, which was much too large for her, was riding up over the lower part of her face. At other times, she would have been upset about this, but there were worse things to worry about right now. Mommy tried to pull it down but failed.

“It’s okay,” said Mommy. “Don’t worry. It’s fun, isn’t it?”

“No,” said Annie. “No, no, no, no, no!” She watched the water pooling at her feet. Soon the boat would go under and they would die. She did not understand why her mommy was so calm. But one could never really understand a mommy, or how a mommy thinks – mommies were strange and unpredictable. All one could do was to try to stay alive.

Mommy paddled out a couple of yards from the beach. It was not a steep beach, and the water was probably only a few feet deep under them. The boat rose and fell a little with the waves, but it was wide and in no danger of tipping over. Annie stayed very still. Her instinct told her that if she moved at all, she might rock the boat and fall in the water.

And then, sitting out there in the boat with Mommy, swaying gently, there was a total of about a minute where Annie forgot to be afraid and kind of had a good time.

But then she remembered.

“Do you want to go out a little bit more? We could go over there, or over there?” Mommy asked, gesturing.

“No,” said Annie. “Get me out of here.”

Mommy, defeated, finally paddled back over to Daddy and Cora. “You sure?” she asked.

“Get me out of here. Get me out of here,” said Annie.

Mommy paddled up onto the sand and the boat crunched to a stop.  Daddy helped Annie out.

“Wasn’t that fun? Wouldn’t you want to do that again?” Mommy asked, hopefully.

“No,” said Annie.

But after that, the day got better for Annie. The kayak was left on the beach, forgotten. She and her daddy went for a walk along the beach, and they made lion prints in the sand and played leap frog. Annie liked leap frog but didn’t want to do any leaping, so Daddy had to leap over her, then run back around and leap over her again. They made a hot tub together by digging a hole in the sand, which filled with water.

Also, Mommy had brought some triangular plastic bowls, and Annie took one with glee. She and her daddy started by building triangular castles out of them, but then she realized her true purpose: moving sand and water around the beach.

First she scooped sand into the bowl and then flung it into the water. She was feeding treats to the ocean. She had to get the sand from just the right place on the beach, and then run just to the edge of the water, and throw it into the water. However, she had to do it without letting the waves touch her toes. This was hard to do, and Annie spent lots of time running to the edge of the water and then dancing out of reach of the waves.

Along with feeding treats to the ocean, she had to scoop up water to put on the sand, since it was drying out. The tide was going out, so patches of sand started to show through the water. Rivulets of water ran down the beach towards the water. Annie had to add water to these places.

She also had to chase a seagull, and run back and forth to the ocean, across the sand, and through the shallow water. Her parents sat on the beach with Cora, who had woken up from a brief nap and was surveying the beach with mild interest. Sometimes they held conversations with Annie, and sometimes they just watched her. Cora enjoyed watching the seagulls and listening to her father saying “Bird! Bird! Bird!” over and over again. Sometimes Cora would encourage him by saying “Buh,” which would set him off again. “Bird! Bird! Bird! Bird! Bird!”

The rest of the day was equally leisurely for the family. They went back into town to visit the library and the playground again, and Mommy read a shortened version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid to Annie, who had heard it before but not for a long time.

She was stunned by the ending. She asked a few clarifying questions to make sure she had understood it properly. Mommy explained that the prince actually marries the other lady, and then explained about the little mermaid choosing to die rather than kill the prince she loved. And then everything got a little muddled at the very end, because it was hard to understand what happened to the mermaid after she died – but the important and horrifying conclusion was that the little mermaid died.

“I don’t like that ending,” Annie stated, very seriously.

“I know,” said Mommy. “Disney didn’t like it either. That’s why they changed it.”

Annie thought about this for awhile. She looked back at the pictures in the book. “I like this picture,” she said, pointing at a picture of the little mermaid, holding a dagger above the sleeping prince and his bride. “Except I don’t like the sword.”


After that they went to the playground, and Annie went on the swings, and the slide, and then spun around in the spinning bucket seats, round and round and round. She hopped off and staggered around. “I’m so dizzy I could carry a sheep!” she said.

I’m So Dizzy I Could Carry a Sheep

1 thought on “Day 6: The Beach”

  1. Pingback: Ligar Bay: A Week in Paradise – Year in New Zealand

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