The California summer sun is hot, expansive and invades every spot that shade could be lingering. Ice plants bloom and glisten, the black top burns my feet walking from the beach to the car as shoes are superfluous. On the freeway back to my grandparents house my dad sings along to the radio with the windows down as he smokes cigarette after cigarette.
My lips are stiff, salty and swollen after snorkeling for 4 hours, my back singed but memories of each grain of sand, still contemplative Garibaldii , quivering anemone and whip fast anchovy hold fast and steady. I practice trying to swim with the enormous schools of anchovy that zoom around like sheep on a hillside, just as dumb and afraid-as if I could catch one or would want to. I just want to be in the middle-between a wall of silver fish scales.
There is a large grain of sand between my molars on the bottom and I fidget with it using my tongue. I spit it out on my finger and its black and shiny and the size of a sesame seed. Covered in my spit it clings to my finger as I attempt to flick it out the window the wind blowing in my face blowing my sunlightened hair around my face. I press my thumb into my thigh to test how much of a burn I have and its not much. rummaging around in the cooler I take out a soda and as it opens it sprays on me, my dad shouting “Jesuschrist Nic.”
I startled him which is easy to do seeing how he has no peripheral vision and is night blind. Even at 8 I know that is unsafe to drive. We get home, eat a quick dinner and have time for an ice cream and the sunset on the hood of his Austin Healey. Next year we will drive it to mexico for a week long vacation on the beach but for now we just tool around in the clown car, blue of course.
I ask endless questions that he seems to have endless answers to. He hasn’t yet met the woman who would give me a brother finally and slowly wreck my life. For now its just us, on the hood of his car eating ice cream, sand still in my salty tangled hair, feet black from the black top and there can be no more magical kingdom than the hood of his car.