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I look once more out the rolled-down window of our faded blue Chevrolet and gaze out at our little yellow summer house, rapidly shrinking as we roll away. The trim white shutters are pulled tight, awaiting next year when we return and the house will brim with life and energy once again. I see our dark auburn porch sitting peacefully on the sand. A warm breeze blows, tinkling the silver chimes that hang from its roof. The little windowbox my mom uses during the summer has nothing left but a little dirt and maybe a couple of dead spiders.

Stretching below and past the porch is pure white sand. It leads to sparkling aqua-blue waters that reflect the sun and almost blind me in their brightness. I remember this morning when I took a last swim in the cool, turquoise waters. The sunrise was beautiful, pale pink, lavender, and apricot, but the water held a chill which I hadn't felt all summer.

Paradise a beach house
I remember this morning when I took a last swim in the cool, turquoise waters

I look down at my patched denim cutoffs. They have been worn so many times that they are almost white, but they hold a faint sea-smell that I love. Those shorts bring back memories of all the past summers we have spent on Richolette Beach. I remember the sunny day a few years ago when a bunch of neighbors and our whole family teamed up to push a beached whale back to sea. I recall that notable time when Dad first taught me how to sail a boat. I remember watching my first falling star on Grandma's knees late one night, catching my first fish, and learning the miracle of life one week as I watched hundreds of baby sea turtles, just hatched, crawl to the sea for the first time.

Mom reprimanded me this morning, saying that it will be cold back in San Francisco and I should at least wear pants, but I insisted that since it was the last day of summer, I was going to wear my summer shorts. The last day of summer. I guess I can't deny any longer that fall is really coming. The leaves of the oaks and maples we drive by remind me of colorful nasturtiums and flickering flames with their brilliant reds, oranges and yellows.

I look back longingly at my lovely days of getting up early for a refreshing morning swim, sunbathing idly on the soft, warm sand, and hunting for interesting shells for my collection. I remember watching the sun set over the ocean and then dropping into bed, exhausted but exhilarated, to fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of waves lapping playfully on the sand, and crickets chirping soothing lullabies. Realization creeps over me that starting tomorrow I will again be forced to stick to a strict schedule of homework, teachers and classes. I shudder slightly as a cool wind sweeps through the car window, which I close.

Forcing thoughts of school to the back of my mind, I lean back cozily against the warm seat and close my eyes. My mind wanders freely, and again I start daydreaming of past days at the little house on Richolette Beach. For I know that summer will come again, and I will once more lie on the sand, idly watching the gentle waves. I know that once more, I can be in paradise.

Paradise Leah Sausjord Karlins
Leah Sausjord Karlins, 12
Campbell, California

Paradise Maya Sprinsock
Maya Sprinsock, 9
Santa Cruz, California