“So, you all agreed on this?” Helen said. Donna squirmed in her seat, wishing that her siblings had arrived: Sarah had texted Donna from the highway “whiteouts and slow,” saying she’d be there as soon as she could. There had been no word from Dennis at all. Donna didn’t like it. Sarah was supposed to be the one doing the talking.
© Troy Turner TC Media
Atlantic Nights Chapter 10
“Yes, Mom. We did agree. And you agreed, too. At least you said you did when we all talked about it last. It’s nice here and you’re lucky to get in, there’s tons of demand and rooms fill up as soon…”
“Your father agreed, too?”
Donna looked out the window, blinking quickly. The tip of her tongue worried the corner of her mouth for a moment. This was the part she’d been dreading, having to steer her mother away. “It won’t work,” Dennis had said and Donna agreed, but Sarah was definite. “OK, then,” she said. “But I’ve been the one telling her that Dad’s dead for too long. From now on, you guys get to do it.” So they had reluctantly agreed — but that didn’t make it any easier now.
“He — he thought this was best. He was just in Cavendish. You remember Cavendish, don’t you, Mom?”
Cavendish. It was like a key in a lock, that one word, and Helen wasn’t seeing her daughter Donna sitting in front of her now, she was seeing Donna at five, blonde ringlets down to her shoulders instead of straight brown hair, a small and pudgy cherub.
“You remember about your father and the jellyfish?”
Donna remembered all too well, but shook her head anyway, relieved.
“We were on the beach,” Helen said, “and you remember the beach there, the way it went on and on, all sand. And you were splashing away in a big pool of water and we thought you were fine down there, because we were close enough to keep an eye on you and there were hardly any waves at all. We were on vacation but your father, well, you know your father, he was saying ‘Wouldn’t this be a great place to have the account for sun tan lotion?’ The beach was just strewn with pink and brown bodies laying out in the sun — we did that then, you know, the more sun the better. And then you were screaming, just screaming, still sitting there and your father was up and running before I could even figure out what was going on.
“He picked you right up in the air and tilted you over almost sidewise and I didn’t know what was going on — you were screaming to beat the band and everyone nearby was either looking or getting ready to get involved — but it was tendrils from some kind of jellyfish just floating in the water, and they’d wrapped around your perfect little leg and stung.”
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