I inhaled the deep green air of Assateague Island, filling my lungs with the sweet aroma of the forest. I lay on my back and peered into the sky, day dreaming of days where I walked into a school and everyone was waiting for me with open arms and stories to tell. I had always loved the island, with her deep blue seas and pale sky. In the morning my mom would teach me to read and spell and add and subtract, but all these things came easily and it made learning boring. I longed for a friend, to go to school and make friends of my own. Sometimes in the afternoon, after my learning, I would walk to the woods or the edge of the shore and dream mostly about making friends and learning together. I pulled my watch out of my blouse and checked the time, 5:52. I sat straight up and jumped up to my feet. I had to be home before dinner to help set the table.
I ran swiftly jumping over logs, dogging branches, and came to the edge of the woods. I kneeled down next to a bush and put on my sandals. My mother was afraid I was going to cut my foot on some sea glass if I didn't wear them. I approached the front of my home. My house was blue to match the sea. Being the daughter of the Assateague island caretaker, I was lucky to have been able to stay here all my life but soon I will have to move. There was a tall white fence around the ocean blue house surrounding a beautiful flower garden tended by my mother. I opened the familiar gate built by my father. I walked past the flower garden brushing a bright orange tulip with my hand as I passed. When I approached the screen door, I could smell the sweet aroma of my mother’s pecan pie on the window and the clatter of dishes, and I realized I must be late. I opened the door and was greeted with a blunt “You're late Mary.”
“I know, I'm sorry Momma.” I slipped off my sandals and walked to the sink. Not surprised to see my siblings already working at dinner, I realized Rosa would be cross with me all night, but not William. He was never cross with me and for the most part, I was never cross with him. He was a small boy, the second youngest of three of us children. He was handsome, dark brown hair with deep blue eyes, thats how all of us were though. Momma said we got our hair from our Pappa and our eyes from her.
I walked to the sink and gazed out the window. As I wiped away at the dishes, I couldn't help but daydream once again. “Mary, are you dreaming about all of your friends again?” snapped my sister Rosa.
“Leave her alone Rosa” replied Will.
“I don't understand why you stand up for her Will. She’s useless, all she is good for is telling stories.” My stomach came up into my throat. I couldn't even defend myself. I really was good for nothing. I stared at the floor. I didn't blame my siblings for hating me. They had good reason really; I could hardly wash the dishes.
When everything was done and ready, I took my place at the table. After grace, Momma brought out the dinner, tonight was chicken pudding. Vegetables from Mom’s garden were served on the side, And for dessert, a delicious bombe. We never were so blessed on a regular day. Today was special, we were eating Rosa’s favorite meal because it was her 16th birthday. Rosa was a charming young girl with long brown locks. Her eyes were the color of the sky, and her skin was kissed by the sun. She and Mother made all of our dresses and the clothes for the boys. I loved to have Rosa make mine because she would take all the leftover scraps and turn them into frills and beautiful flowers on the dresses. Momma was also a beautiful woman, tall and thin, fair skinned, she had the reddest lips and bluest eyes, she always wore her curly blond locks in a tight knot on the back of her head. She liked to keep her dresses simple, but colorful using whites and blues and yellows. She was an amazing woman, and that was one thing all of us children could agree on.
After dinner I climbed up into bed with my sister Rosa. It was snug but we never complained.
I woke up at first sunlight and flopped out of bed. Today I decided to head to the beach and collect some treasures for Rosa for her birthday. Not that that was much of a gift, but it would have to do seeing that I had no money. Walking out the door I wasn’t surprised to see a pony grazing on the front lawn. Assateague Island was filled with them. You would think that would be great, but all they do is bite or flee when you approach them. I walked out to the shore line and hopped around people lying on beach blankets or skimming the beach. The people amused me when I was lonely. I liked to ask where people were from and learn all about the unique things they all knew. I skimmed the beach for a couple of hours finding crabs, starfish, and sand dollars. My legs ached, and my head throbbed from the heat. I decided to lay down for a few minutes next to a crab apple tree that swayed in the distance. I took a seat under the softly swaying tree and closed my eyes.
“Ppppppp” a soft something rubbed by my cheek. I jumped and so did he. I caught a glimpse of a slick black pony.
“Gosh you nearly gave me a heart attack!” I blurted. Not to my surprise it was only Calypso, my horse. I took Calypso in when he was just a foal. Feeling a little cheated out of my sleep I decided I should get back up and stretch my legs. Calypso followed close behind clomping majestically in the sand. I got up and put my feet in the ocean water. I picked up a crab apple and tossed it between his legs and waited. He sniffed it and after a while he picked it up and ate it. I grabbed another apple took a big bite. Remembering how sour crab apples are, I choked it down and gave the rest to Calypso. When I was bored, I would use crab apples as treats to teach Calypso tricks. Nothing to special, just enough to make a buck off of some tourist. I snapped my fingers and waved my hand in a circle. Calypso reared up and walked in a circle. People clapped and told me to do more.. I snapped my fingers and drew a circle in the sand. Calypso laid down and rolled over kicking sand in the air. People roared with laughter and threw coins at my feet. I snapped and took a bow and Calypso bent down on one knee and touched his nose to the ground like he was bowing as well.
“Ok, we had better to go now boy.” I said, tossing him another apple. He trotted back a little and stood on the edge of the woods watching me. I grabbed my shoes and slipped them on. Time to head home. I jumped upon my feet and took a shortcut through the woods on a path cleared by my father.
When I finally made it home, I brought Calypso over to his little barn and lead him to his stall. Then I opened the door of my sweet home and stepped inside. I was expecting the normal buzz of my happy family but that was far from what I got. I looked at my mother with my head cocked to the side. Her sad eyes were not familiar to me. I could tell something was not right, but I wasn't sure I wanted to find out what it was. Deep down I think I knew, but I was sure it couldn't be true. The normal sound of my siblings arguing was silenced. My father came out to greet me but not in his usual manner.
He hugged me and whispered, “I'm sorry Mary.” as soon as the words escaped his lips, I knew why. My heart dropped. My feet suddenly felt as though I weighed a ton. I fell into his arms and sobbed. We had to leave, and I knew Calypso couldn't come.
That night I didn't eat. Instead, I went upstairs and grabbed a blanket. When my parents went to bed, I snuck outside. I ran to the barn my eyes blurry from tears. The ocean breeze kissed my face and grabbed at my arms. When I reached the barn, I opened the big wooden door and slipped inside. Calypso stood there one leg bent and head drooping. I snapped my fingers and he lifted his head. Knowing that I had so little precious time left, I climbed into his stall, laid down next to where he stood and slept.
The next morning I was awakened by my father’s soft voice. “Mary, there's someone I want you to meet.” he said confidently.
Before I could react a young girl, probably around the age of 10, tiptoed into the barn. “This is Grace, her dad is going to be the new caretaker.” I just stared.
“I know what this is.” I said sternly. “You want me to hand over Calipso. Just like that to some ten year old that I don't even know.” I grunted.
Before he could do anything, I stormed out of the barn feeling betrayed and hurt. I climbed a nearby tree and sat in its twisting branches. Trying to comprehend all that was happening. Probably an hour passed, and I still sat in the tree. “Why are you up in that tree?” a voice called from below. I was so startled by it that I flopped down on the ground right on my stomach. When my breath came back to me, I squealed a rough. “I'm not.” and then huffed “At least not anymore.” I rolled my eyes and headed back towards the barn.
“How come you don’t like me?” She said. I didn't mean to make her feel that way and when she said it it gave me a little knot in my stomach.
“You think I'm trying to take your horse away from you, but I promise I will take good care of him.”
I realized this girl would be good for Calypso. I took her to the barn and let Calypso out. She just stared at me wide eyed. I kept walking. We walked to my favorite place to rest, the beach. When we got there, we skimmed the beach for hours. I showed her the tricks that I taught Calypso. She stared wide eyed as I snapped and twirl my hand Calypso responding to my every move. “Would you like to try?” I asked.
“Yes!!!” she exclaimed. I took her hand and showed her what to do. She snapped and twirled her hand. Calypso stood for a second and then followed the directions. She jumped with excitement “I did It!” she exclaimed. I couldn’t help but smile at her excitement. I was actually starting to feel better about leaving Calypso with her now. At least I knew he would be loved and well taken care of.
When the day came for us to leave for my father’s new job in Maine. I was actually kind of excited to see the place. I had heard that Maine was beautiful in the fall, and fall is my favorite season. Everything that I had ever longed for I realized was all right here. A true friend that I could always rely on was all right here, Calypso. While the rumble of the car over the earth reminded me of a new beginning, and a chance at making new friends and new memories, I looked back at my island, and I knew that no matter how far I traveled, I would always come back to this place.