Sole woke up but was still pretty tired. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Yesterday was nice but emotionally taxing. His family woke up early so they could get a good spot on the beach. Sole and his father put away everyone's belongings and beach essentials into the car. Essentials was being used loosely because the trunk was full of miscellaneous things. Getting the trunk closed was difficult. They were taking Sole’s old mini van. Sole had driven many miles in it. Sole was surprised the thing was still around. It had had many issues. He didn’t have the heart to sell it after all the money and time he put in it. He was ready to give it to his sister as her first car.
The ride had been torture. Sole tended to get motion sick whenever his dad drove. The drive was long, Rhea did her best to assuage Sole's nausea. Waking up early had been worth it because they found the perfect spot on the beach. After their spot was set up, Sole realized something, he wasn't expecting to go to the beach, so he and Rhea didn't have swimwear. They explored the boardwalk until they found a store that sold swimwear. Sole found some nice trunks and Rhea picked a bikini. Rhea felt uncomfortable with all the states so Sole suggested she wear a shirt on top.
After getting changed Sole and Rhea met up with his family. Sole's mom was wearing a monokini and large shades. She was soaking up some sun. Sole thought of joining her. He had forgotten how good the sun’s rays felt on his skin. Sole's father was wearing his trunks and proudly displayed his beer belly. Sole's sister was wearing what looked like shorts and a shirt. Sole's dad and sister were splashing each other and laughing.
"Doesn't that look like fun Rhea? Let's go join them." Sole was trying not to bolt into the water but he saw Rhea still as a statue. "Everything okay?" Sole asked, feeling worried.
"Sole… I don't know how to swim." Rhea answered in a small voice.
"I'd be happy to teach you, if you'll let me." Sole said without hesitation. "You're always helping me, it's time I returned the favor." Sole offered his hand and Rhea gingerly took it. She joined him in the water and shivered as it was cold. “Yeah it’s cold at first but your body will adjust.” Sole plunged himself in the water and then popped back up. His actions elicited a giggle from Rhea. She did the same.
Rhea was a fast learner and grasped the basics of swimming pretty easily. She took to the water like a mermaid. Sole pictured her as one briefly in his mind.
She wanted to play like she saw Sole's family play earlier but his dad was on the sand and his sister looked occupied. Before Rhea could feel disappointed, Sole splashed her. She yelped but then quickly retaliated. They played like this for a couple of minutes. They decided to see what his sister was up to. She was setting up a volleyball net with help from her mom. Sole told Rhea how his cousin was a monster at volleyball. So he taught them how to play and they fell in love with it. His cousin, Theo had played volleyball throughout most of highschool. Theo was also going to meet them on the beach, he was just going to work for a bit and then meet them there. Theo showed up by the time the net was set up. Rhea wanted to see what they could do and challenged them.
Not wanting to completely crush Rhea the teams were divided evenly. Rhea was on a team with Theo. Sole was on a team with his sister. Sole's dad offered to keep score. The game started slow so Rhea could get a feel of how to play. They asked if she felt she understood and she responded with a confident yes. Rhea did have an athletic build, Sole was more of the slug build. That's when the real fun started. The ball was always flying from one end of the net to the other. Sole was struggling to keep up with the other players. He had to start working out again if he wanted to keep up with Rhea. He couldn't keep up any longer and he and his sister lost the match. His sister gave him a disappointed look but Sole was never the most coordinated.
Sole's dad called him over, he was relaxing in a beach chair with one of those foreign beers he enjoyed. He offered a beer to Sole. Sole and his dad sometimes spent their time together like this. The beach was hot and the beer was cold. Sole and his dad sat in comfortable silence.
"Could I try?" Rhea asked, breaking the silence. Sole was unsure if giving Rhea a beer was the best idea. He did want her to experience as much of life as she could. He gave her the beer. Rhea then started to drink it. She must have liked it because she finished the can. "I feel funny." Rhea said as she burped, Sole felt a bit of bad . Rhea’s cheeks flushed. Sole had a feeling things were about to take a turn. Sole guided her to the blanket on the sand. Maybe she should lay down. Rhea did as instructed and Sole gave her something to snack on and some water. Rhea seemed okay. Sole looked at his dad and his dad smiled at him.
“So I assume all therapists come to the beach with their clients and their family.” Sole’s dad had this goofy grin that made Sole feel somewhat embarrassed. “She reminds me of your mother.” Sole’s dad gave him a knowing look. Sole hoped Rhea hadn’t heard his dad. He looked to see if she had. Rhea was sleeping. She must be sleeping off the beer, she snored softly.
After having as much fun as they could, everyone agreed it was time to start packing to leave. They ate some food and then put everything back into the car. Everyone was seated in the car except for Rhea and Sole's sister.
"I get the feeling you don't like me." Rhea got straight to the point.
"What gave you that impression?" Stella asked genuinely. If anything, Stella thought Rhea didn't like her. Stella felt Sole should only have enough room in his heart for two women, her and his mom. "Let me offer you some advice about my brother. He’s a weirdo, He has always wanted to see a play. I have a couple of friends that act. I could probably get you guys some tickets to their next play." Rhea appreciated the offer and accepted. Sole's sister wasn't sure how she felt about Rhea but if she could get Rhea and Sole together maybe her parents would become less strict. "I'll try to get tickets. Whatever you do, don't tell Sole. It should be a surprise."