Bacon sandwiches always reminded her of her very favorite vacation as a child. Her dad had borrowed his cousin’s trailer and their family had stayed two weeks at a campground at the beach. Two weeks was a lifetime for a ten year old girl and she had such happy memories of that trip. Her younger brother was going through a phase where he only wanted to eat bacon and their mother indulged him on the trip by making them bacon sandwiches every day for lunch. They’d wrap the sandwiches in wax paper and walk with them through the campground and across a little bridge that spanned a creek that ran down to the ocean bay. There was a children’s playground on one side of the sandy beach that curved around the bay and they’d sit on the swings and eat their sandwiches, watching the little birds that hopped around on the wet sand close to the mild surf.
Her younger brother Sam didn’t mind hanging around with her on these vacations although he wanted little to do with her at home. He was a rough and tumble little kid, even at eight years old and was always busy plotting nefarious adventures with his best friend who lived across the street. Oh the trouble he’d get into! But on these trips, away from his buddy he was a friendly companion. She liked to make up little stories for him and on that trip she’d made up a series of stories about a mermaid girl who lived in the bay where they were staying. She had him half way convinced that the mermaid girl actually existed.
There were several other families staying in their campground, with kids around their age. They’d wave to each other as they passed by their campsites. Sometimes she was too shy to wave but she’d smile and duck her head a bit. There was a boy around her age that she thought was cute and she wrote entries about him in her diary. It was especially thrilling on days when he smiled back at her.
On one of the last days of the vacation she was sitting on the swings as usual with Sam and she started telling him about the castle family and the pirates that were threatening them. There was a climbing apparatus in the playground and in the center of it was a large structure that looked like a tree house tower about ten feet off the ground and she told Sam that the castle family and their loyal guard lived there. While she was telling her story she noticed that other children from the playground were drawing closer to listen and she had an idea.
“Do you want to play castle tower?” she asked all the kids. The cute boy was there and she made a point of looking at him. There was something about being on vacation far from home that made her brave in ways she usually couldn’t be at home because of usually being so shy. The ten kids or so wanted to play so she explained how they were all part of the castle family or one of the loyal guards and she gave each kid a role to play. They all climbed up to the tower and she began to issue commands.
“The pirates are coming soon,” she called. “Gather up all necessary weapons!”
“They’re coming up the beach….first guards go down and fight them!”
“More are coming……second guards join the fight!”
“They’re climbing up to the castle…everyone fight!”
The kids all jumped around, swinging imaginary swords and having sword fights up and down the beach. They yelled and whooped. She watched, laughing, and then ran across the sand and into the waves up to her waist. She turned back to the beach and began to slowly walk out of the water, holding her left arm high, clenched around an imaginary sword.
“Here comes the Mermaid Girl,” she called loudly. “Coming to fight the Pirate King!”
With the water fizzing to and fro around her ankles, she moved her left arm dramatically in several lunging sweeps. She staggered for a moment, clutching her side and then swung her arm again. “Got you Pirate King!” she yelled triumphantly. Everyone hooted and when she looked at the cute boy he was looking at her with such fierce admiration on his face she could still see it thirty years later.
His family left the campground the next day and she never saw him again. She thought about that look from time to time, and much later in her life realized that she was waiting to see that look again on the face of a good and fiercely loyal man, who’d then be her one and only true love.