The screen door smacks. Feet thunder down stairs. Voices filter through the kitchen window, voices lifted over an open bottle of wine, a cheese platter, sliced peaches, seven shared decades of memories resurrected in word and laughter. Locusts buzz with a surround-sound Lowcountry melody, an army of wings and strings and antennaed timpani hidden in the branches of live oaks and palmettos. “Has anyone seen Isabelle’s flip flops?” “I hung the swim towels on the hooks downstairs.” “I think James went to the beach to body surf.” “Does anyone need anything at Bi-Lo? I’m going to bike over for more ice cream.”
The screen door smacks. Flip-flops flop and then lie still. A gust of air-conditioning escapes and perishes when the back door opens. Sand sprinkles off feet scraped on the back door rug. Wet feet slap inside. The air conditioner hums, blasts, works off some steam from the endless effort of the day. Small feet pound across the floor, from right to left and back to right, chased by slightly larger feet, by voices, “Cora can’t find her blanket.” “Do I have to do quiet time?” “Where are my cousins?” “Is anyone in the bathroom?”
The screen door smacks. Ice tinkles around the glass of iced coffee, merry in these last moments of a frozen stage of life. Magazine pages turn, rustle, gossip. A ceiling fan throws itself into lazy, ticking orbit. Rocking chairs run in place like metronomes. An essential vacation survey: “Glass of wine?” “What are you reading?” “Did the kids want to build sandcastles this afternoon?” “Fish good for dinner?” “Should we go see the sunset tonight?”
The screen door smacks. Feet thunder down stairs. Bug spray pfwifts. Bike bells ting. Puppy yips. Children shriek as quarter-sized crabs materialize out of the cage submerged in the marsh. Claws skitter. Snap. Wave in silent, terrified threat. Locust symphony ratchets up a pitch in the refrain. “Did anyone grab the kite?” “Who has the bug spray?” “I’m taking my good camera.” “The cousins want to ride together–let’s move car seats to the van.” “Hurry! Sun goes down in 17 minutes.”
The screen door smacks. Breeze needles through a lace curtain of live oak leaves. Frogs layer trills to the low country symphony. The locusts saw onward as tirelessly as a bass line. Feet thunder down stairs. Flip flops scuffle across the driveway. Bathroom pipes gurgle from toilet, bath, toothbrush rinsing. Air waves ripple to avoid swooping bats. The ocean scrapes forward and backward with zen strokes perfected through practice. From the unseen street, cars pass in a swoosh that’s there, here, and gone. Stars gaze, impersonally and stubbornly silent. “But Lydia doesn’t have to go to bed yet.” “MaaaaaaMaaaaaaaaa!” “She moved my pillow!” “Who wants more peach crumble?” “Ice cream?” “We’re setting up Trivial Pursuit.” “Uh-oh, back to bed.”
The screen door smacks. Flip-flops flop. Sand sprinkles. Air-conditioned air gusts and dies. Light switch ticks. Lock clicks. “Tomorrow.”
More thoughts on an Edisto Beach vacation.