Bill, maybe 7-8 years old. A partial Bill, on the far left.
Four young kids. Three boys and a girl. Brothers and a sister. That’s who we were. Soaking up the sun for a week. Darkening our light-colored skin, naturally. We woke in the morning, ate a quick meal, and spent the day using our imagination. Exploring our sandy world. We’d walk up and down the beach, and occasionally stop to investigate a bunch of seaweed that had washed ashore. We’d take turns using the only boogie-board available to us, watching each other fall off, flipping into the crashing waves. And, building sand castles using small styrofoam cups was a must-do. So much happened throughout those long days. So much of not much.
William, who was never called that name, but was instead referred to as Bill, was the oldest at thirteen years old. My brother Christopher, nicknamed Kit, was somewhere in the eleven-age range. I was ten, and my youngest brother, Andy, was seven. At the day’s end, our aunt would call to us, having come down from her home on the hill, to come on in! to have dinner with her and our uncle. Suddenly realizing how hungry we felt, we’d run up the slight incline, rinse ourselves off with the hose in front of their long and narrow beach house, wrap a towel around our small frames, change into some dry clothes, and then sit at the dining room table for a home-cooked meal.
I remember it was Bill who smiled at me, made me feel better, when my aunt seemed mad when I wouldn’t eat the canned peaches she served for dessert. Cling peaches with a little whipping cream. I politely told her I don’t like peaches. Not even if it was candy. My aunt grunted when she took my dish away. Bill’s smile widened.
During those carefree days, those fun-in-the sun days, no one, not anyone, knew that six years later Bill would die in a car accident.