The low sea-green waves rolled insistently across the wide clean beach. The steady breeze the waves carried blew warm and moist into the cluster of villas below the red-roofed hotel.
“The weather is perfect! “ Roxanne sighed for the umpteenth time. Her deep bosom heaved with wordless delight.
The steady breeze blew back loose strands of coppery hair as her bright sea-green eyes gazed upon the idyllic scene. Not a cloud in the azure sky. Not a chilling raindrop. Neither a scorching wind nor an occasional pocket of cold air.
“The weather is perfect here! “ She sighed deeply again.
Around Roxanne (and her sister-in-law Maeve) lay a fenced yard full of succulents and potted cacti. Behind them came the laughter of their grandchildren splashing in the swimming pool nestled amongst the villas. Across the way sat Roxanne’s step-daughters in the shade of the other villa John Sienna rented for his family. The younger women sat closer to the sparkling pool and rowdy little ones, telling tales of their mutual youth.
Sitting at Roxanne’s elbow sat her best friend Maeve Sienna. In contrast to Roxanne’s sun blushed cheeks, was Maeve’s cloud white complexion. Whereas Roxanne Scamander’s hair glistened like copper in the light coming down from above and bouncing off the sand and sea before them, Maeve’s hung straight and dark. Today, Maeve’s black eyes glistened with the same mischievous sparkle as Roxanne’s. Both their mouths contained the same secret smile, as they eavesdropped on their “girls”.
“What was his name? “Eric.” “Anyway, remember we went on that field trip to the beach in the fifth grade?” “Who was this?” “ Eric! Ninja Eric!” “Ah! Didn’t he have like sixteen Ninja turtles?” “Different themes you know.” “Anyway, there was a guy there with a Parachute Ninja that Eric just had to have. You know, where there is a ‘kerchief with strings attached? Like, he already had sixteen, but he wanted this one. The guy said he’d swap it for Eric’s new watch. So, Eric does it. Well, the guy said if Eric changed his mind he could swap back. He throws the thing up in the air a couple of times. Of course, it was lame. And the guy was gone with his watch!” “He learned a lesson!”
Red-headed Roxanne wrestled against laughter with plump red lips and managed to succeed with a sip of wine. Her step-daughters fell over themselves with fits of delight
When Roxanne turned to share a secret smile with her best friend, she found Maeve’s face taunt and body tense with the effort to hear her daughter-in-laws. On Maeve’s drawn features laid an expression unlike the hilarity Roxanne expected. Maeve’s dark eyes darted to the woman that was as close to a sister and sibling as she’d ever know. Maeve returned Roxanne’s barely suppressed grin with a nervous tight smile, then turned to eavesdropping.
“Didn’t he have a crush on you?” “Well, yes, but..” “Oh, yeah she did. I recall us singing; Eric and Callirrhoe sitting …” All three sisters joined in. “in a tree; kay – eye – esse – esse – eye – en – gee. First comes love then comes marriage, then comes Callirrhoe with a baby carriage.” They all giggled. “Yes, I had a crush on him, until the chair incident.” Everyone burst out laughing. “It’s funny now! You know how boys are. I thought he was being such a gentleman holding a chair for me And then he pulls it out from under me. “ All the younger women roared with laughter.
But full-figured Madam Scamander didn’t join with them this time. She concentrated instead on the shadows fleeing across the blank expression on Maeve’s face as she listened; fascinated by their girlhood stories. Maeve never knew girlhood.
“Did he leave you a May Day basket?” “Ugh! I’d forgotten about that!” “I’d forgotten about the holiday?” “I remember daddy teasing me for a week! He almost stepped on it going out the front door!”
The three daddy’s girls bawled with hilarity until one of them yelled at their young sons for diving off the pool-side table into the clear water of the pool.
A glance of Roxanne’s emerald eyes caught a tear rolling down Maeve’s glacial cheekbones. She had no memories of her parents. Maeve always said the best gift her husband ever gave her was his family; the only one she’d ever know. A great sob shook her frame. She continued to glare out towards where the sea loses itself in the horizon.
The three sisters where now silent, startled at their mother-in-law’s sob. The children instinctually aware of “danger” by their mother’s silence grew quiet or were hushed by the first born kids.
Roxanne turned in her seat, more to her step-daughters and grandkids than Maeve. “Dearie?”
Roxanne asked in her naturally loud melodious voice. She added a tone of authority to the question as though it was an announcement. Everyone looked her way.
“I was just thing about a story from our childhood.”
A soft, “What?” escaped the lips of the eldest of Stan Scamander’s daughters. One of his other daughters pulled at her elbow. No response showed on Maeve’s pale wet cheeks and quivering blood-red lips. She had no idea of the gift Roxanne intended her. Before anyone could take a breathe to speak , Roxanne bustled on ward.
“Remember when daddy got transferred to Japan? And we had to go to school on the military base with all those army brats? “
Mouths hung open. Glances were exchanged. Even the happy go lucky breeze of Coronado Island stopped to listen to history in the making. Confusion began to flutter Maeve’s long black eyelashes. He lips stopped quivering.
“Anyway dearie it was us two sisters against all those terrible army brats.” Roxanne took her “sister” by the hand and interlaced their fingers. “and that awful Mrs. Bellinger, Mrs. Ding-a-ling wouldn’t even let us sit together. Remember how you had to go to the front of the classroom when you needed more wide-lined writing paper?”
As she spoke Roxanne began to nod . Maeve numbly mimicked her.
“You probably don’ remember this.”
She continued sweetly and firmly. Madam Stan Scamander could be and was often a force of nature. Today was one of those days. Her step-daughters now received the runt of her ample charms and deep-sea gaze..
“ I went up to get a sheet of paper. When I turned around you were coming up to get one, dearie. So, I wanted to hand it to you…” Roxanne’s bejeweled right hand hung in the air between them; index and middle finger extended, spread and horizontal, thumb pressed against them. “and when I did my finger twisted and there were two sheets of paper there. “
Roxanne chuckled. Maeve lifted her jaw and joined in. Her tears now dried.
“As we were laughing about this, a very suave Hispanic boy came up for a sheet too. I don’t know now what we thought suave meant in the second grade, but you said it a lot dearie! “
Maeve marveled at the blush rising to her cheeks.
“Any way dearie, when I went to offer the sheet to you and him, my fingers twisted again and there were three!”
Everyone around the pool laughed, including the wind whose voice was provided by the seashell wind chimes as the breeze moved on his way.
“Do you remember that sis?”
Roxanne had just offered Maeve everything her money had never been able to buy her; memoires of a handsome proud father, a graceful overly protective mother and a childhood! Roxanne was offering to share memories of getting her pony tail pulled on the play ground, frilly holiday dresses, the two of them play with Barbie dolls, slumber parties, the first dance their dad let them go to and with a little nudging Roxanne might even reveal the teenage rush Maeve never knew.
Of course, she answered, “Yes! But the main thing I remember about Japan…” Maeve turned her face to the ocean borne breeze to dry her new born tears; tears of joy. “ is that the weather is perfect.” She finished by squeezing her sister’s hand .
Roxanne squeezed back.