The wind gushing from the ocean was warm and relentless as the beach stretched out in front of us without the respite of shade. As the sun blazed down, the sweat on my brow slid like a river down the side of my face and I lay, like a lizard on a rock, contemplating the cool ocean ahead and internally conversed about making a move.
As the flies buzzed overhead, drunkenly landing on the prime real estate that was my hot, sticky body the familiar chimes of an ice cream truck began to drift across the shore.
‘Dad?’ I said
‘Yeah, yeah, my wallet’s in the bag…get me a Sprite while you’re there.’
I began to sprint my way across the dunes, sinking down every few steps as my toes gripped my thongs so they wouldn’t become lost in the stinking hot sand below. I joined the queue behind six other customers until the heavenly face of the ice cream man beamed down from his lofty height.
‘A Sprite and a soft serve with sprinkles please’,
He winked his acknowledgment and turned his back. My heart skipped a beat as he leaned himself over and handed me my snowy white mountain of ice-cream goodness, entirely encrusted in a rainbow of sugar. I beamed my thanks and, cradling my stash, walked away.
As the sun beat its path, the rainbow sprinkles turned into multi-coloured rivulets avalanching their way over my fingers and into the crease of my elbow. I lapped feverishly to salvage what I could, too focused on the task in hand to notice the gaggle of voices calling out to me until a lady tapped me gently on the shoulder.
‘Dear, I don’t think you paid…’
I stared blankly at her before turning my attention to the ice cream man waiting patiently. I held onto dad’s Sprite in one hand and my fast-melting ice cream in the other. Dad’s wallet feeling as heavy in my pocket as my heart – the lady smiled kindly at me, turned to the ice cream truck and whispered softly: ‘I’ll pay for her.’
As I walked slowly back to my family, slurping that creamy puddle in a cone, I rubbed dad’s cool can of Sprite over my face and neck before handing it to him. And, after kicking off my thongs, skipped towards the waves to wash away the sticky sweetness of someone else’s kindness.