A warm sea breeze rustled through the palm thatch umbrella shading the table. Matt inhaled the salty air and closed his eyes against the glaring sun. The surf roared in his ears as the tide washed in over the hot sand down on the beach. Children laughed, playing in the waves. Matt heard the clicking of a bicycle and opened his eyes just in time to see Claire ride up. She put out the kickstand and removed her helmet as she smiled his way and came to sit across from him.
“Hey, what’s up?” She brushed back stray strands of golden hair. Sweat was just beginning to dampen the fabric of the coral tank top she wore. She was training for the Honolulu Century Ride. Matt was more into water sports than land, but he’d still be at the finish line cheering her on.
He nodded toward the bike. “How’s training?”
“Good.” She took several sips from the water bottle she always carried around. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Matt nodded slowly and took a deep breath, fidgeting with his glass.
Claire glanced at the Mai Tai. “You’re drinking again.”
It wasn’t a question.
Matt sighed. “No. I’m not going to drink it.”
“Then why’d you order it?”
He shrugged. “I thought I needed it.”
Claire studied her brother intently. “What’s wrong?”
He was silent for a moment before answering. “I got a call.”
Claire’s eyes flashed and her jaw set in a hard line as she leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms. “What did she want?”
Matt met her gaze and tears stung at the back of his eyes. “Dad’s got cancer. He’s dying.”
Claire stared down at a cranefly crawling up the table leg. “So?”
Her voice sounded faraway.
“I’m going to visit him.”
She shook her head. “I’m not going with you.”
He’s our father, Claire. It’s time to let the past go.”
She didn’t answer.
Matt sighed and stood up. “I’m leaving tomorrow at noon.”
He grabbed the Mai Tai and tossed the liquid onto the sand as he walked away.
Would she come?
© Whitney L. Schwartz
Written for Thursday 360