The house was exceptionally clean, every corner reflecting the morning sunlight streaming through the window. The cutlery set upon he table was white with a pink floral design on the edges.
“Ah, just the right colour” My aunt exclaimed as I stood in the doorway with a bouquet of pink carnations in my hand. I smiled and handed her the bouquet. “So honey, how have you been?” she said placing the flowers in a crystal vase. She was dressed in a beige dress down to her calves and her pale blonde hair had been perfectly curled just to end at her shoulders.
“I’ve been good” I sighed, massaging my temples “The past few days have been hectic. I somehow pulled some strings at the firm and managed to get gardening leave.”
“Oh sweetie” she shook her head pitifully “You just need a break. I’m glad you came here to stay.”
The sunlight made her porcelain skin glow despite the agedness. “So will you prefer tea?” her fuchsia painted lips pursed themselves “or coffee?”
“I think” I pondered over it, smoothing the nonexistent creases on my skirt “Coffee”
“Oh sure” she smiled, revealing her perfect white teeth “Merida, one cup of black tea with a drop of lemon and coffee with- Oh sweetie?” she turned to me “How would you like your coffee?”
“A little milk and half a spoon sugar please.”
“And Merida” she spoke in her sophisticated way that intimidated anyone “Bring some of those oat cookies.”
Back when I was a kid and we used to come here for holidays, just a disdainful look from her used to turn my legs to jelly and I’d avoid coming in her sight till I had fixed whatever I did. However now I was a grown up, but still I couldn’ shake off the feeling of being intimidated when I was around her.
I drank my coffee and heard her talking about how she learnt a new stitch by Merida and now planned to embroider an intricate table cloth for the coffee table in her bedroom. When I finished my coffee, I excused myself and Merida showed me to my room. I smiled without meaning to when I saw the room my sister and I used to stay in because it brought back all the fond memories of our childhood, where things were so much easier than they are now. I opened my suitcase and took out my shorts and t-shirt, I wouldn’t be needing anything else for the night and I was too tired at that time to set up my clothes in the closet. After taking a nice warm shower and settling in for the evening, I tried to sleep, and after about ten minutes of tossing and turning I fell asleep.
I felt the warm sunlight on me as my sister whined because the last wave ruined her sandcastle. “C’mon Sarah, make another one,” I said, “We could make one together if you want?”
“Okay!” she jumped and ran towards me “Let’s build a big one!”. She was practically jumping with enthusiasm as she flashed me a grin. We were almost finished with our grand sand castle when a big wave washed over both of us, spoiling what we were so proud of, a moment ago. I looked up at my baby sister with her chin quivering and tears threatening to spill from her big, round and innocent eyes.
“Oh, Sar-“ A knock on my door woke me up. “Madam?” came the timid voice of Merida “The breakfast is ready if you’d like to have it.”
“Okay,” I called back “I’ll be downstairs.”
I heard footsteps moving away from the door. I sat upright in bed, rubbing my eyes from the heel of my hand to wake them up. I could almost feel myself on the beach in the dream, playing with her as if I was 12 again. The dream began slipping from my mind as I got up from bed, took out an outfit for the day and took a quick shower. I made a smiley on the mirror covered with vapour and somehow that made me feel cheerful. I felt childish, smiling for no reason, so I straightened my face. As I descended the staircase, the smell of breakfast wafted towards me, making my stomach growl. I saw Aunt Ramona sitting on the table, wearing a light pink dress with her hair pinned back except some loose curls falling on her shoulders. She smiled at me warmly and asked me to sit.
We talked about our my parents and how she missed them. I asked her what she would be doing for the day and she said “Oh, the usual. Embroidery, knitting and perhaps some reading.”
“I’d like to read to you if you won’t mind.” I said hesitantly “In the evening, though. I’d like to spend the day down at the beach.”
“Sure Samara,” she said, her lips spreading into a genuine smile “I’d love that.”
I made my way down to the beach with my tote bag. It had everything I would’ve needed: sunscreen, towel, a set of clothes and my cell phone. I reached the shore and spread the towel, then sat on it and admired the way the green-blue waves almost looked pristine as I applied sunscreen. I eased myself on the towel and closed my eyes. I was about to fall asleep when I heard a distant voice calling me.
I opened my eyes and saw Aunt Ramona on the edge of the platform, after which the beach started. I go up, folded the towel and began walking as I put it back in my bag.
“Yes, Aunt Ramona?” I asked as I approached her “Is everything okay?”
“Yes honey, everything is fine.” She smiled reassuringly “Let’s go inside?”
I nodded and went along with her. “So,” she said, taking a seat on the sofa in the living room “When you were down at the beach, I called up your sister. Since we talked about her yesterday I wanted to see how she was doing, and when I told her about you being here, she said she wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh?” I said surprised because it had been a month or two since we had talked. After I had gone to college, ties loosened between us. We both got too busy in our own lives to take much interest in how the other’s was going. We still met on special occasions and family get-togethers and enjoyed each others company immensely, it’d be like when we were kids, but it lasted that long only.
I took out my phone from the bag and dialed her number in anticipation.
“Hello?” I said “Sarah?”
“Hey Samara!” she sounded excited “How’re you? I heard you’re at Aunt Ramona’s?”
“Yes I am, and I’m fine.” I smiled, “How’re you?”
“Well, I am currently unemployed.” She sighed then giggled “Possibly broke”
“Sarah,” I said in a reprimanding tone. She was only two years younger to me but still she was my baby sister “Why didn’t you tell-“
“But!” she cut in “I am coming to Aunt Ramona’s! I’m packing as we talk.”
“Really?” I said pleasantly surprised and quite happy with the prospect of meeting my sister and possibly reliving my childhood memories with her. “That’s great!”
“Yeah, I know!” I could see her smiling “She invited me over when I told her about my current situation and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Plus I always loved that place! Anyway, I have to go pack, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, grinning.
“See ya sister,” she said like we used to when we were kids.
I hung up and looked at Aunt Ramona who was looking at me amusedly “One would think you’re still a kid.” Her smile was warm “Look how happy you got.”
I smiled bashfully. She shook her head smiling and said: “I’ll get Merida to make another room ready.”
“Oh no.” I said “We’ll share a room”
“Sure honey,” she said softly “As you want it.”
I wasn’t just looking forward to meeting my sister, I was looking forward to being twelve and happy again.