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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

“Nantucket Dune”

“James, are you done with that blue icing yet?” my sister shouted.  

“Almost!” I whipped the thin blue mess as fast as I could, though occasionally testing the flavor. The roaring clanking of pots and pans from the kitchen was deafening. Shouting over the sound to each other used to give me a raspy voice in the morning, but by now I’ve gotten used to it. I handed the bright blue icing to my sister, who began to dip the soft, crispy cookies into the bowl one by one. No time to eat, yet, I thought. Besides, these weren’t for us. 

Every year on the island, almost as our own unspoken ceremony, each shop is filled to the brim with stock. The Christmas tourists arrive for three days of a last-minute shopping spree. The Christmas Stroll, we call it. We have our own ceremonies, like the tree lighting and Santa Clause arriving by boat, but my favorite island tradition is the rush through the kitchen every night before they arrive again. Cookies, cakes, pies, pastries of all kinds. What sells the quickest is our decorated cookies, like the blue whales I described earlier. The sailboats are my favorite; they’re so detailed. It’s like a tiny little Aivazovsky painting. My father started this bakery a few years ago. He found his passion and took life into his own hands. Though I love this all, my true favorite part of the whole year is only an hour away. 

Awoken from my daydream, my father shouted to me “James! The oven! Make sure the crabs aren’t burnin’ up!” I shook myself awake, and rushed to the oven. Well, not rushed, that would be stupid. I passed by my father who was busy rolling out the dough. 

“Behind!” The oven timer still had a minute or two, so I tried to check the cookies with the oven light. I pressed the button a few times, but the light didn’t change. “Dad, the oven light bulb is broken!”

“During The Stroll? Of course it is!” He laughed sarcastically. “I’ll get a new one tomorrow, in the morning.” 

In a panic, I grabbed the cookie pan from the oven without a mitt. A burning sting filled my palm, and I retracted from the pan immediately. I clenched my palm, gritted my teeth, and hustled to the sink. The cold water stung, but at least the warmth wasn’t there anymore. My father came from the stove to check on me. He walked up behind me, leaned down, and put his hand on my shoulder. 

“James, how does it look? Need anything? I think we have some aloe vera upstairs.” He spoke in a rushed, yet sympathetic tone. 

“Can you grab that? It’s not that bad, but I need to keep this cool.” 

He quickly went upstairs to the apartment as I continued to hold my hand under the water. Shortly he came back down the stairs, letting out a long sigh. “Turns out we’re out of aloe vera. Sorry, champ.” 

“No, it’s okay. If you want me to, I can run to the store for some. I’ll grab the light bulb, too.” 

His voice quickly turned harsh. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re going to sneak off to the festival again, aren’t you? You can’t keep doing this every year, James.”              

“Dad, I promise I’ve never snuck off to the festival. I’ll come right back. It’s only a couple blocks away.” 

“Then where do you go every year, huh? We’re supposed to do this together! As a family!” 

“I promise I’ll be right back.” I pleaded. “I’ll help finish the frosting when I come back, I swear. Please, I need the aloe vera.”         

“Then your sister can go!”

Without looking up from her cupcake display, she quickly replied “I’m not the clumsy knave. He should get his own aloe. Besides, I don’t want to miss my shows on Hulu later.” I wanted to snap back at her, but that wouldn’t help my case. 

“Dad, I really do need it. And you won’t have to leave during the afternoon rush for the lightbulb.” 

He pondered his decision for some time, stroking his beard. I knew not to interrupt him, so I kept my eyes away from him, and back to the cold sink. After several seconds, he finally bent under pressure, and let me go. “Alright, fine. But if you aren’t back in fifteen, you’re washing all these dishes yourself, got it.” I thanked him as quickly as I could, grabbed my hat, my thermal coat, and rushed out the door. I was almost there.  

Now, of course I didn’t go to the general store. My burn could wait. Sure, the dishes would pile up, but it’s always worth it. Instead of the store, or the festivals, I made my way towards Brant Point beach. During any season the beach gets pretty packed with crowds. There’s no surf, so it’s mainly young, loud children here. On a night like tonight, however, everyone else was gone. It was empty, yet so full of life. I took off my shoes, and let my feet soak up the wet sand and the soft gentle touch of the waves. All the little creatures and wonders were free to roam the dunes, retreating back into the grass beside me if I got too close. The lighthouse up ahead, while being the shortest of the few here, still was the oldest. So much fascinating history all in one little tower. The clear shallow water reflects the sky, making it seem even more infinite. 

The island is quite small, so there’s not much light pollution at all. The sky up above on a cold winter night is filled with amazement, as awe inspiring as Christmas morning when we were younger. The smell of the victuals was far away, yet the sweetness can still be felt. A whole other universe that we’re so lucky to be a part of. Stars spattered against the black canvas. Bright blue nebulas stretch down on the lighthouse from above, almost as if the light was lit once more. 

Whenever I’m out here, I realize that I can’t be stuck in that kitchen. Within a few years, I want to explore this world. The sea is my path to it all. It’s all waiting for me. However, right now, it’s all empty to me. Stuck on this island that I’ve never seen beyond. Trapped by the never-ending blue dune. I’ll venture past the dry wasteland, and make it out of here. One day. 

During my short walk home I did stop by the general store. The aloe vera helped my burn, but I found myself forgetting about it altogether on the dune. I walked through the door half-an-hour later than I promised. My father, rightfully so, was furious. The bright light of the TV let me know of my sister giggling in the living room. I ended up finishing the dishes, and went to bed late that night, but I wasn’t ashamed of myself at all. To me, it’s worth it every year. I’ve got to take my life into my own hands.   

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