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Francie, Debbie’s old friend from Syracuse, has come for a visit, and Debbie realizes that distance and time are beginning to change them.
Francie’s never seen the ocean in her life. We spread our towels a few feet away from the parents and lie on our backs letting the sea breeze waft over us.
I love that word. Waft. Wind plus soft. Waft. Perfect.
Francie sits up and slathers on more suntan lotion. She points at the rough surf. “We’re not going to swim in that, are we?”
“Not me.” I turn over on my stomach to watch the water roll in, three waves on top of each other. When they all break together, they don’t flow far. A strong undertow pulls them right back, maybe all the way to Africa.
“Only the strongest swimmers or the surfers go out in this.” I point to the flag at the end of the boardwalk. “See that? Red and white. You swim at your own risk.”
Do I confess I’m terrified of the breakers? Getting slammed onto a bed of broken shells hurts. When I was five, Daddy promised he wouldn’t let go of me, and we would be fine. But a rough wave crashed over us, and he couldn’t hold on. I thought I was dying until the tide sent me tumbling toward the beach. Daddy still claims he kept his promise because I didn’t drown.
I decide not to share the story with Francie. She’s nervous enough.
“Remember Lisa Stowe?” she asks.
“Sure. She was really tiny with straight dark hair and the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
“We’ve gotten to be pretty good friends since you left.”
A twinge of jealousy pokes me, but I bat it away. If I have a new best friend in Nancy, why shouldn’t Francie have a new best friend, too?