May 8, 2016

A Second Chance

Galveston is nothing compared to Hawaii.

Hawaii had beautiful blue water and powdery sand. Hawaii had clear, sunny days, just right for seashell hunting along the tide poles. Hawaii had sunbathers and sand castles. Hawaii was perfect. Hawaii was where I wanted to stay.

And now, standing at the edge of the beach in Galveston, Texas, I knew that Hawaii was gone.

Galveston had gray, murky water, the color of dryer lint. I wondered how fish could possibly see in all that sludge, or more importantly, how I could see. I dropped my scuba mask, making a hard clunk on the ground beside me.

I shielded my eyes from the glaring sun, scowling at the pathetic waves rolling in and out over the brown sand. I thought back to how Hawaii had fine white sand as far as the eye could see, sand that was like snow; your foot sank deep into it. Galveston sand was brown, almost green-looking. It was as hard as concrete, and my heels hurt slightly as I walked farther, closer to the middle.

There had to at least be good shells here. I scanned the ground, looking for a spiral shell, perhaps an angel’s wing. But, after a moment of searching, I realized that all the shells were broken, thin as paper.

I felt tears come to my eyes. Hawaii was the only place I felt comfortable, and that’s saying a lot since I had been to practically every place in the world. My father is a marine biologist, so we had to constantly move along practically every coastline. I’d been to Japan, Florida, Maine, England, and a million other random places, including Hawaii. Out of every place, Hawaii had been my favorite. To me, Hawaii was home.

I turned from the beach and up the wooden bridge to our small beach house. I was angry now, fiery as a pepper. I ran up the steps and to the porch, where my sister Indie was sitting on the rocking chair, staring intently at the “ocean.”

“No Hawaii, isn’t it?” she asked calmly, not taking a break from her rhythmic rocking.

I squeezed my fists. “I hate it here. I hate everything.” I didn’t say any more, worried I’d cry right then and there.

“Owen, you know how it is, Daddy’s job and all…” Indie started.

“I know. ‘It’s only temporary,’ they say. Well, I’m sick of temporary. I’m sick of moving. I just want to stay in one place. I want friends, and school, and a normal life. I wish Dad had a normal job. I hate it here,” I said, my anger boiling over. “I wish we were back in Hawaii. I wish we didn’t move. I hate Galveston. I mean, what’s the point! Why would Daddy let us love something and then take it away in less than a week? Why? I hate him!”

Indie stopped rocking. She was quiet for a few minutes, which was probably a good thing because I would’ve screamed if she had said anymore. I stared at the beach, hoping that the ugly water and sand could see me right now and would see the burning hatred in my eyes.

“Owen,” Indie said quietly, breaking the silence. “Did you know that when we first moved to Hawaii, you hated it, too?”

I turned my head away from the ocean and towards her. “What? I love Hawaii.” I didn’t remember ever not liking it. I almost felt mad at her for thinking that.

“When we first moved there, almost two years ago, you hated it. You hated the beach, and every time we would go down there, you would stare at the water and scream, afraid the sharks were going to get you. You would stay in your room all day. Mom and Dad almost considered moving again. But then you started to like it, so we stayed.”

I unclenched my fists, feeling less angry. I hated Hawaii? Did I hate it as much as I hate Galveston?

“Really?” I asked.

Indie nodded and started rocking again. “So, Owen. If you once hated Hawaii so much, don’t you think you could give Galveston a chance?”

She slid her sunglasses on and continued staring at the ocean, as calm as before. I watched my sister for a moment, and then walked slowly back towards the beach. Maybe she was right. Maybe I did need to give Galveston a second chance. Sure, it might be harder than Hawaii, and sure, Hawaii was obviously better, but maybe I could like Galveston too.
I glanced at the sand that I had once stared at with such strong loathing and realized that it would be pretty good sand-castle material. The broken shells would make pretty cool decorations, too. I walked to the water’s edge and watched it rush over my toes. A small minnow darted past my ankles, and I smiled as it tickled the outside of my foot.

Without hesitation, I began to run farther into the waves, laughing. I was too excited to notice how cold it was, how I was soaked to the bone. I got to waist deep before finally stopping. The water was fun, despite its opacity. I have to admit, I was happy. I suddenly didn’t hate the water or the sand. The blazing sun didn’t bother me as much, and the seaweed wrapping around my arms wasn’t as gross looking. Indie was right about Galveston.

I gave it a second chance.

Eva's note:

If you haven't been to Galveston, the description above is pretty much spot-on. Galveston is pretty lame compared to Hawaii, and I haven't even been to Hawaii! I liked the idea of using this contrast in this story because I thought about how people in "pretty beaches" (sorry Galveston) thought about... well.

I was going to use this story in a contest, but ended up using other stories.

I hope you liked!