Caroline Davidson

My Earliest Memory

My earliest memory is of the beach in Normandy, France. This is not the type of sunny beach people flock to over vacation. On this beach there is sun, but instead of oppressing you with its heat it warms you through without scorching your skin. The wind is constantly blowing, churning waves on the ocean’s surface, impatient air that is not content to lie low.

On this particular day my brothers and I had decided to dig a big hole in the sand, for after all, who knew what wonderful treasures lay just beneath the surface? The moment this decision was made my brothers charged into the shed, overturning buckets as they lunged for their shovels. While my brothers fought over the big red shovel, I picked my way through the maze of their legs towards a lonely yellow shovel leaning against the opposite wall of the shed. As I headed back to the sand my older brother asserted his seniority, triumphing with the red shovel and waving it around as he started giving out orders from his newfound perch upon the nearby dune. My two younger brothers and I got to work on our excavation, making it look so fun that my older brother was compelled to come help us. Of course it did not take long for my brothers’ laughter to turn to bickering once again, and for sand to start flying, earning my brothers a scolding from my mother. Once the hole was deep enough that it started filling with groundwater my brothers and I abandoned our shovels and ran to tell the world of our great accomplishment.

Before we had the time to get halfway to the door, my dad came out of the house with a big bucket. Attached to this bucket was a long rope. “Alright,” he said, the sunlight glinting off his eyes, making them shine with a brilliance that rivaled that of the sun. “Who’s going down into that hole?” My brothers, clearly shocked that anyone was going down there, started making excuses, explaining that since they were boys and obviously stronger than me they should all lower me in the bucket. I climbed into the bucket the wind ruffling my clothes, and making my brothers squint slightly as they grabbed hold of the rope. My dad carefully inched the bucket closer to the edge of the hole, and all of a sudden my bucket was hovering in air, well if I ignored the big wall of sand right in front of me. I was lowered deeper into the hole, where the wind could no longer reach me and my clothes calmed. I looked directly up at the sun, still too young to know that this crushed the tiny vertebraes in the back of my neck and that it was bad for my eyes. As the sun’s brightness made me shift my gaze, it settled on the faces of my brothers, so intent on being sure that I was lowered carefully that they didn’t notice me wave up to them. Well, except my youngest brother. He lifted his hand to wave back, realized that he had just let go of the rope, and quickly grabbed hold of it again, returning my wave with a smile instead.

I marveled at how the rope had not slipped a bit when he let go, and I could see him looking down at his hands strongly grasping the rope pondering the same question. He, of course, assumed my other two brothers were strong enough to hold my weight alone. As did I. Realizing that his strength was not needed, my youngest brother loosened his grip on the rope, going through the motions now more for show and worthiness of inclusion than my safety. The bucket scraped against the side of the hole, sending grains of sand cascading into the bucket, joining me on my descent. I studied these flying grains, the image of a waterfall while a foot below me was the real water, calm as could be.

I looked up again at my brothers, silhouetted against the light sky, as I felt myself being lifted back up to meet them. As the bucket creeped closer to the top of the hole the wind recommenced its toussling of my hair and the ocean slowly came into view, an expansive gray mass. I turned my gaze back towards my diligent brothers and saw not them but my mother moving hand over hand, pulling me up out of the depths of my hole.


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