RUN LIKE A BIG KID
I’m running through octopus arms, trying to avoid the sprinklers, but wanting them to catch me at the same time. My swimsuit is too big for me, and it sticks to the backs of my thighs like the seaweed that curled around my ankles on my first trip to the ocean and wouldn’t let go. Justine is up ahead of me, always, in a bikini I want but won’t be given until it’s stretched out like that seaweed. She’s so fast, all I can see is a turquoise blur. She turns towards me and waves, come on, as if she thinks I can be like her and run so fast that not even the parents can catch her, and there isn’t a drop of water on her swimsuit.
“Don’t hurt yourself, honey,” my aunt whispers into my ear, cradling me like I’m still a baby. The adults look out at Justine, that electric haze dashing around the lawn.
I run after her anyway, my feet making holes in the wet grass big enough to plant a flower. She speeds up now, making her circles around the garden tighter, her turns sharper. Crashing through the stream of water, I think I’ve won the race, till I trip on the sprinkler and land with my face in the grass. Face to face with the cantaloupe-colored octopus whose arms tripped me with their tentacles, I begin to cry. Justine keeps running. The parents rush over, carrying me under the white umbrella on the lawn, where I can watch my big cousin play.
“God, she’s graceful,” they murmur.