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Crunch. Crack. The pavement gurgles under our car. My excitement turns the corners of my mouth up. We are going miniature golfing for the first time. I push the button to open the window. The crisp fall air lifts the pieces of hair that rest on my forehead. The light is like liquid, shimmering down from the sky. Everything is palpable. The royal, jade trees, the soft, quiet pale blue of the sky and the warmth of my rose-pink fleece sweatshirt on my skin.

We follow the wrong road and we don’t see the right signs. Finally, after searching, we find our path. When we get to the park, there is a sign that reads, “Closed. Under Construction.” I sigh as my breath circles around me. We get back into the car.

My mom announces that we are going to find Jones Beach. I wonder how we will swim in weather that bites at your face. We can’t find Jones Beach but we find our way to Oyster Bay Beach. We go to an ice cream parlor near the sand. As we walk towards the boardwalk, I slip the blue plastic spoon into my mouth as the Oreo ice cream slides down my throat. I begin to skip but bend down to tie my blue-and-white sneakers perched on the ground like a blue jay’s vibrant wing.

We walk as our feet tap on the wooden boards. The ocean wrinkles to my left and my sister walks next to me on my right. The wind blows through our ink-black hair and we all smile. We do not talk. The wind whispers secrets that we do not have to speak. The setting sun melts like sweet butter into the ocean.

Splintery Embrace: A Memoir sitting on a bench
This day that we had not planned was perfect

My thoughts wander and the boardwalk stretches far as if being pulled by a giant. I think about my birthday that just passed, and how I spent months planning it out to be perfect. In the end, it did not live up to the times and activities I had carefully laid out on paper. Now that I look back, how could a game end at a perfect hour and not interfere with the next activity? I had tried my hardest to anticipate the exactness of the special day but I had not succeeded.

We finally reach a bench next to a broad and aged tree a few feet off the boardwalk. The knotted roots tightly embrace the splintery edges of the bench. I sit down as the lowest branch gently grazes the top of my head. I squeeze my mom’s hand tightly, look far out across the golden water and smile. This day that we had not planned was perfect.

Splintery Embrace: A Memoir Serena Alagappan
Serena Alagappan, 12
New York, New York

Splintery Embrace: A Memoir Emma Collington
Emma Collington, 13
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada