The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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CONTEXT: My mother, Cindy, recalls this event as the moment where she was most afraid. My family went on a cruise and booked an excursion to swim with stingrays off the coast of Grand Caiman. It was also only a month after the well-known wildlife enthusiast, Steve Irwin, died from an attack by a stingray. This being the case, I was not very keen on the whole idea and was moody the whole trip, but decided to appease my mother by changing into my swimsuit and going swimming with my family. Unfortunately, I neglected to tell anyone I was going to change, so the above scene happened.

As the double decker boat took challenged the waves of the Caribbean Sea, the overbearing stench of sweat and sunscreen from the packed first deck forced Cindy, her children, and husband up to the second deck for fresh air.

           

Some excursion this is.

           

Her daughter, Erica, also seemed to be dissatisfied with the situation but for different reasons.

           

“Mom, I really can’t go. I just can’t. You know what happened to that guy.”

           

“Erica, seriously. They aren’t going to hurt you. At least come with us to change into your bathing suit and then decide,” Cindy suggested.

           

“Would ice cream change your mind?” Cindy’s husband desperately implored. 

           

Unfortunately, it seemed like all the ice cream in the world would not convince Cindy’s daughter to partake in the harmless—and expensive—act of swimming with stingrays.   

What a stubborn little brat.

Cindy, needing an escape from the monster of a daughter she enabled, shuffled her older daughter through the sea of people on the deck below to change into their bathing suits.

                       

At least one kid’s cooperating today.

After the relief that came from escaping the one room dumpster the crew called a bathroom, Cindy soon felt her heart sink when she came back upstairs to find only her husband and a child who was not her daughter sitting next to him.

            “Uh, Dennis, where is our child?”

“Wait, she wasn’t with you?”

Cindy resisted the urge to strangle her husband in front of the curious eyes of the other passengers. The pressure in her chest felt like it was supporting the weight of forty people.

In less than three minutes, all the occupants on the boat were looking for a blonde nine-year-old wearing a pink dress.

Five more minutes. No sighting of her daughter.

Cindy’s mind raced with the worst possible scenario of the whereabouts of her daughter.

Oh God. She’s not even a good swimmer.

After what seemed like every centimeter of the boat had been scanned, Cindy checked the one place no one would want to look.  

The bathroom.

Several impatient knocks on the bathroom door later and a small blonde girl in a bathing suit emerged, looking obliviously out at the swarm of people surrounding her mother. The ship’s occupants let out a sigh of relief that contended with Cindy’s rage.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Cindy grabbed the forearm of her daughter whose eyes grew bulbs of tears due to the embarrassment that wasn’t even half of what Cindy now felt.

The boat neared the stingray destination on a sandbar off the coast of the ocean, and Cindy listened to the excuses made by her daughter between the spaces of every scolding remark.

           

“…You did tell me to put on my bathing suit...” Erica said with a sly grin.

            In that moment, Cindy couldn’t decide whether or not to be happy with the fact that she was raising a miniature version of herself.

            The next ten years are going to be rough. 

Difficult Daughter

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2006
Caribbean Ocean, Grand Caimen

CONTEXT: My mother, Cindy, recalls this event as the moment where she was most afraid. My family went on a cruise and booked an excursion to swim with stingrays off the coast of Grand Caiman. It was also only a month after the well-known wildlife enthusiast, Steve Irwin, died from an attack by a stingray. This being the case, I was not very keen on the whole idea and was moody the whole trip, but decided to appease my mother by changing into my swimsuit and going swimming with my family. Unfortunately, I neglected to tell anyone I was going to change, so the above scene happened.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Erica Wessner on June 6, 2018
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