Becca gathered her beach bag stuffed with large towels and a small soft side cooler with water and snacks. She went into her dad’s office to find the keys, not so cleverly hidden.
In the garage, she pulled off the muslin tarp covering the 64 turquoise Mustang convertible with white top and upholstery. “When Dad had given his ok, he didn’t say which car, right?” she reasoned to herself. But as she pulled his prized Baby out, she knew he hadn’t meant this car.
When she pulled up, Evie and her nurse were at the curb. Becca jumped out to help her into the front seat, her too thin legs under baggy jean shorts, a cotton cardigan over her camisole, covering the catheter port under her right collar bone. A baseball cap declaring her a Sherwood High Warrior covered her bald head.
“She had a good night sleep, so she should be able to get out to the beach for a few hours,” the nurse fussed over Evie. ” I packed her a bag with what she needs if she get nauseous. But be back here by one. No later, Becca.”
“Yes, ma’am. No all nighter, right Evie?”
With that they pulled out from the hospice center and onto the roads they had travelled so often to the beach at the lake. Those trips defined their childhood summers.
“Your dad let you take Baby?” Evie asked.
“Well, not really but hey, I’ve done worse, right? I’ll just blame it on you if he finds out,” Bec laughed, looking over at Evie, her face lifted to the light.
“I love riding in this car, top down, sun and fun.” Evie took a deep breath. “Every summer your dad would take us out. Best times.”
“Becca, can we skip the beach? I really want to go somewhere just with you.”
“Of course, honey. Just tell me where.”
They drove to Forestview Cemetary, Evie directing Becca to a section shaded by huge oaks and towering pines, a glimpse of the lake ahead. They parked in front of a large stone bearing her family name.
“Here is where I’ll be, Bec. It’s pretty, right? Can we sit a bit?”
Becca put out their towels, and the girls laid down on the gentle slope. The lake, glittering beyond, confirming life in green and blue.
“I never really liked the beach, Bec,” Evie looked over to the friend she’d known since second grade. She held Bec’s hand tightly.
“I know. The whole sand thing.” Bec replied.
“Sand on wet or sunscreened skin is the absolute worst.”
“We always had to have a clean towel for me to get the sand off you,” Becca remembered.
“I think sand is just water’s dust. Will I just be dust, Bec?”
Three weeks later, as they lowered the casket to the earth, shaded by pines and oaks, Becca stepped forward and placed a towel on top, just above the perfect pink roses.
“To keep the sand off, Evie.”