“NO-UH!” a young girl’s voice loudly protested. “You’re doing it wrong!”
Her playmate, a young boy, stared at her blankly and silently, stung by the accusation of doing something wrong. He looked down at the black zig-zag stripe running horizontally across his yellow shirt, and tugged at the forelock of his hair, as he always did when he was embarrassed or anxious. Which, when not within range of his older sister’s protection, was a nearly perpetual state.
“That’s not how you make a sandcastle!” the girl continued berating. “You do it like this!” She demonstrated her technique, the “right way” by standing up and digging at the sand moistened by the sea by high tide earlier in the day. She trotted back, running as fast as she could with a heavy bucket of wet sand in her hands. She set the bucket down, flipped it over, and had a flawless, well-formed proto-sandcastle.
“See? You put a window here!” she continued, poking at the castle with her finger, making a round window. “And you put the door here!” she concluded, scraping out a square door with a plastic shovel. “That’s the right way! Your way is wrong!”
He looked up briefly at his own sandcastle, which looked much the same, except he had used a small twig to gouge out his windows on the sides opposite his “door” which he had drawn in with a crooked attempt at a curved U-shaped line with the same twig. Her window was above the door, overlooking it.
“That’s where the princess lives,” she exclaimed, pointing to the window. “So she can see her knight coming. That’s why you have to put the window in the front!”
Suddenly, the bossy young girl heard the sound of young children making simulated explosion noises with their mouths, gradually growing louder as a boy and girl their age ran towards them.
“Bang!” shouted the boy, pointing his index finger like a pistol at the girl he was chasing.
“Missed Me! Missed Me!” she sang back, mockingly. “Now you have to kiss me!”
“Eww, yuck, no way! Bang! Got you!” he countered.
They both ran full tilt, eventually tripping over and trampling both sandcastles. The bossy girl screamed angrily.
“You wrecked my castle!” she whined. “I’m telling Matwyn!” She stood up and started walking proudly towards the house that overlooked the beach, a good 50 yards away. The boy in the yellow shirt just sat there.
“Quisty is a tattle-tale!” the other girl taunted in a sing-song voice. “Quisty is a tattle-tale!”
“You’re going to be in big trouble!” Quisty shouted back, still walking towards the house, slowly, inviting a chase.
“I got you,” the boy said.
“Nuh-uh!” the girl countered. “You missed me. Now it’s my turn to chase you! Bang!”
“You missed!” the boy replied.
“No, I got you!” she argued. “Look! Here’s my finger, and the bullet goes like this.” With her other hand, she traced out the imaginary line that illustrated the path of the imaginary bullet, until she poked her male playmate in the solar plexus. Of course, she didn’t know it was called the solar plexus. None of them did. To her, it was just the body, and she just shot him there.
“Nuh-uh!” the boy protested.
“Yes-huh!” the girl reiterated.
“Hey,” the boy said, changing the subject, and speaking to the boy in the yellow shirt. “You want to play war, too?”
“No,” he softly whispered, not looking up at either of them.
“Do you know how to play war?” the girl asked. The boy shook his head.
“It’s fun!” the other boy insisted. “First, we chase Sefie and shoot her. Then she chases us and shoots us. When you get shot, you’re “it” and have to chase. Wanna play?”
The boy in the yellow shirt didn’t answer audibly.
“Are you sad?” the girl asked. The boy in yellow shook his head negatively.
Meanwhile, the other boy began to smile impishly, and stood up. He started to sneak up on his playmate.
Sefie put her arm around the boy in the yellow shirt. He began to squirm and tried to get out of the embrace.
“This is what Matwyn does to Cid when he’s sad,” she explained, “and then he’s happy.”
Grinning from ear to ear, the other boy crept up behind the girl, holding his finger up to his mouth to signal to the boy in the yellow shirt to be quiet. He shaped his other hand into an imaginary pistol, and pointed it at the nape of Sefie’s neck, and shouted in her ear as loudly as he could.
“BANG!” he yelled triumphantly. “You’re it!”
“Nuh-uh!” she squealed in protest. “You cheated! You cheated! Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin-Eater!”
“There’s no cheating in war!” he defended. Then he ran off, knowing that she would now chase him to get him back. Sure enough, she was quickly on her feet and chasing after him, shooting imaginary bullets at him.
“Irvy, I’m going to get you! Bang!”
The boy in the yellow shirt watched them for a little while, but quickly lost interest. Of greater import to him was finding his big sister. He looked around, but could see her nowhere on the beach. So he stood up and began to walk towards the house as fast as his tiny legs would permit him.