The second their feet touch the sand, I could see their souls come back into themselves.
Milo hops out in a way that let him lead into a run, his feet chasing after one other and over every dune, hunting for the first sight of home.
Pear and Penelope unfold long enough to get over the port of the dingy and onto the shore, where they throw off their shoes ad walk hand in hand, on the edge of the waves. They’ll make it around the island twice before coming back to us.
Elias climbs out too, but instead of racing out, he holds out his hand to help me.
I look at it and use his arm to push up and out, instead. I’m jumping over the traps and snares of the forest floor before he even begins to shout my name.
It’s been three months since we last snuck off to the island like this.
I take my chance to soak in every sun ray, to inhale the scent of every leaf and flower growing from and toward the ground. Who knows when the next time will be?
Behind me, I hear Elias telling me to slow down, running out of breath quicker than he can move, but I ignore him. I don’t feel like talking future, now.
I feel like wading in the past.
I cut from tangled trees, and dive toward the dirt path our parents marked out years ago. Vines crawl across it, and roots have outgrown their designated plots, but still, it’s easy to see the way back home.
I pick up the pace, and turn my jog into a sprint. The light catches me between each branch, spotting me like a leopard. Birds sing, squirrels chirp, and the wind raves against each towering tree. They sing a song that welcomes us home.
I whistle a thank you back, but it doesn’t take long after for the distance to creep into feeling like a never-ending effort. I push and I push, until, finally, I see it.
The house that we used to call home.
From here, it looks like the tiniest pink block. Covered in holes that, with each step, become windows. Coming closer, I can see the flower boxes Papa had built under each one, for Mama and me. “You can put whatever you like,” he told us. “So long as you use the one by the kitchen for herbs. I don’t want to have to go out to the garden each time you cook a meal.”
They used to burst with color, green and purple, pink and white and yellow in the summer.
But they haven’t had life in them for years.
When my father built the house, the Escalante family had just finished theirs.
It was Papa’s idea to build them all in a circle, the five houses. “It makes becoming a family much easier if we all share the best spot in the clearing.”
It’s been days since I told Pearl about my dream.
Since then, I’ve written every chance that I have. Behind the front counter, in the back cash room, on my breaks and at lunch. But with school starting up again, my writing window has become smaller and smaller.
So far, I’ve barely enough to fit two pages, let alone the chapter that Pearl expects by the end of the week.
“Where’s my chapter,” she keeps asking. Every turn I make around here, there’s Pearl inquiring about ‘her’ chapter.
“I’m working on it, I’ve been busy.” I say.
Pearl rolls her eyes. “I’ve got two kids and two jobs. I’m busy. You’re making excuses.”
My mother says the same thing. My father disagrees. And Pearl doesn’t care much what either of them think, she just wants to read it.
All of them pushing doesn’t make a difference in my progress, but they don’t seem to care.
I fear I’m slipping away.