Excerpts from Book in Progress:
“…salty…” thought Fina as she tried to open her eyes. She immediately felt the burning of pure salt water hit her eyes. She was trapped – submerged. As Fina’s senses came back she noticed that she was moving.
“Oh my god!” I’m trapped behind a shrimp boat!” She struggled briefly then a sudden calm came about her. “This is how I’m going to die.”
“How are you, Fina? How was your trip?” asked Mark.
“Leave her alone already. Look at how skinny you are! We have to get some food in you. Come on, let’s go. We can talk later,” said Beth as she steered them out the door.
The Cracker Barrel was right down the street, but they drove anyway, it was just too hot. Once seated, and they had ordered, Beth looked at Fina:
“So how are you holding up? You know if you need anything, you just have to ask.”
“I’m fine, M2.” That was Fina’s nickname for Beth, which stood for Mom number 2. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. You know we weren’t really close to begin with,” Fina said somberly.
“I know, and that was always a sad thing. Your parents were really nice people,” Mark said.
“I felt badly enough already about that when they were alive. Can we just talk about something else, please.”
“All right, hon. We’ll drop it right now. Have you talked to Shelby lately? She’s doing well, but she still is getting used to being out of the academy,” said Beth.
“Yeah, I know…man, I still can’t believe my best friend is in the FBI. I’m going to have to watch everything I do now,” Fina laughs.
Beth continues, “I remember the day you two met – “
“Oh, here we go,” groans Mark, Beth shoots him a look and goes on:
“We had just moved to the island and I see this little Chinese girl playing on the playground, and I thought to myself ‘She would be a good friend for my Shelby.’ I remember introducing myself to you and telling you about Shelby and that you should come by. And when you did, the first thing you said to her was, ‘Hi, I’m Fina, you’re mom’s weird.’ “
“Wait a minute, you know that’s not true! You always tell it like that,” laughed Fina. “I never said you were weird…right off.” Fina smiled.
“Well never the less, that was the best decision I’ve ver made for Shelby. I just wish I made a better choice for her brother, Brad. Grady was a bad influence on him.”
“But he’s doing very well now, hon. He’s married to a great girl, and he does good work for us. Everything turned out just fine,” interjected Mark.
Fina had to smile a those two. They argued all the time, but they really were a great couple. She used to love spending the night with Shelby. They let them do what ever they wanted. She was like a second daughter to them. She was also glad that Beth had sought her out on the playground that day.
They finished their lunch and headed back to the store. Beth and Mark wouldn’t let Fina leave without a promise to have her over to dinner someday. As Fina walked out into the parking lot, she heard someone shout:
Fina whipped around, “Kevin!! I haven’t hear that name since high school!”
Fina fondly remembered Kevin Reynolds from high school. He was new their sophomore year, and just about every girl had a crush on him. He was cute, smart and not interested in being “popular.” That was why Fina liked him. He hung out with her, and the “smart” group. As the memories came flooding back, high school wasn’t as bad as she had always recalled.
They hugged, and Kevin said, “Well you can thank that substitute teacher during roll call for that.”
“Wow, it’s great to see you. You look great. What are you doing here, I thought you were in Atlanta?” Fina asked.
“Thanks, you too. I was in Atlanta, but I moved back here. My parents needed me around, and I’d made enough money up there, I decided to go into my own business here. Real Estate has been pretty good to me.”
“I’ll just bet,” Fina smirked. “Everyone wants a piece of Hilton Head. Look at this place.” Fina gestures around her, “ It changes every time I come back.”
“I know. Once things get too congested around here, I’ll probably move my parents up to Virginia or something. I loved it up there when I was in school.”
“I’ll probably stay out west. California’s been good to me. I have a great job, and volleyball’s top notch over there. And really…there’s nothing to bring me back to Hilton Head,”” Fina looked down.
“Oh, right. Listen, I’m really sorry to hear about your parents,” Kevin said sincerely and glanced at his watch, “I really have to get back to the office. Can I call you for dinner some time? I’d love to talk to you some more.”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
“Okay, great, I’ll call you,” they hugged.
During the drive home, Fina realized she was grinning ear to ear.
“Oh, this is silly,” she thought. “I had a crush on him in high school.”
Still the smile didn’t leave her face.
Back at the house, the same heaviness fell upon Fina. She stood there and looked around her. “I guess I should get started,” she thought.
She went into her parents’ room and into their closet. She tried to go through their clothes quickly, but every time she laid an article of clothing into the box she found herself thinking about…how bad of taste her parents had. She couldn’t help but chuckle a few times, remembering some of the events they went to, thinking they were dressed up. She tried to help, buying clothes for Christmas, or on birthdays. But there they were, hardly touched in the back of the closet.
“It’s like they didn’t even want to try to look….American.” That thought hit her, and Fina grew very sad, as she realized what her parents had given up. Their family, their heritage, was thousands of miles away. They stayed in the U.S. to make a better living for themselves, so that they could provide for their families, and for her. They wanted her to grow up smart and successful. Why hadn’t she been more grateful as a child?
“I have to get out of this house,” thought Fina. “Maybe a walk will help me clear up my head.”
Dolphin Head was a recreational area within Hilton Head Plantation. There were many a night that Fina and friends hung out there. Playing on the playground, barbecuing, and war games on the beach. It was a place for all things. Some of her friends had even gotten married there.
Fina sat on the swings and leaned her head on the chain. “Everything will be fine. I have my friends, here and in California. I love my job. My knee feels better every day; maybe I’ll be able to play pro again. Why do I still feel so lonely?”
Fina got up and started to head toward the beach. She looked out over the water and thought how pretty it looked as the sun was about to set. “This place really isn’t so bad, if it wasn’t overrun by tourists and the all mighty dollar,” thought Fina. She let her mind wander as she walked along the water’s edge.
As she walked and daydreamed, Fina tripped over something. At first she thought it was a jellyfish, but when she looked down, she saw that it was an arm, mangled from sea life. And as she looked around she saw that bits of clothing and what could be other body parts washing up on the shore. Fina quickly turned around and threw up.