Dr Remember
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Years ago, my parents took the family to a condo in Key Largo for a couple weeks during the summer. At the time, I was fourteen and my brother, Peter, was eight. I remember he and I spent a lot of time together on those trips; he wanted to go swimming and build sand castles, so I did that with him. In fact, those were the only two things he wanted to do — swim and build sand castles — but I was perfectly content with that.

Our parents were good to us most of the time, but on these trips, they practically abandoned us to our own devices. They were more like sitters than parents, preoccupied with each other's happiness rather than ours. Actually, that would make them terrible sitters (and parents), so they wouldn't be that. The point is, Peter and I spent our time one-on-one for the majority of those trips, and we had a better relationship than our parents had with us. He didn't realize any of this, of course, because he was innocent.

We only took four of these summer trips, however, and this tale is going to tell why we stopped going. It's going to tell why my parents split up, why years later I still can't get it out of my mind. But that's what this is for: I'm going to put it out there for everyone to see. Even though I'm a terrible writer, here's my attempt at non-fiction.


Today was the first day of our fourth annual trip to Key Largo.

I jumped out of the car and followed the wood steps to our condo. My legs felt like jelly and my butt was sore from sitting in a car for 12 hours. Mom and Dad were behind me; Dad carrying the suitcases and Mom slinging the beach stuff in a plastic bag over her shoulder. Peter ran by me, giggling, and, after a few attempts, managed to unlock the door. We spent about half an hour unpacking, sorting all the toiletries in their respective places, checking up on the place. It had been a year since we'd been here, and Dad double-double-checked to make sure no roaches or silverfish were waiting to surprise us.

There wasn't much in the fridge, and the majority of the food we brought was junk, so Dad made a trip to the store. While Mom and Peter were playing a card game, I snatched my suitcase and trudged up the stairs to my room.

It was the exact same. Tropical colors danced around the room. Seashells sat upon a fishing net on the wall. The dresser still held its white rustic design, and I always admired it, even though I never used the thing. Through the window, I saw a bright view of the shallow beach around the bay and the docks. Below in the back "yard" was the covered pool and its accompanying diving board.

The small bookshelf still hid in the corner of the room, holding a few informative books about coral reefs and oceanography. Whoever owned the place must have either forgotten or outright ignored that bookshelf, because the books had been the same since we started vacationing here. It's a shame, too, because I wanted to read them; I wanted to give them something other to do than sit there to be looked at as simply another object in the room, but thinking about reading a book on oceanography felt like reading a textbook. So I turned away and admired the view from my window.

We didn't do much on the first day, mainly because we arrived at the condo at six in the evening, and everyone was on the verge of passing out. Car rides have that effect on my family. Probably due to a recessive gene trait.

Dad got us dinner from the closest pizza place, which tasted pretty cheap. I watched a game show with them for a while and then went up to bed.

When I opened the door to my room, my phone had already been buzzing for who-knows-how long. Five missed calls, all of them from an unknown number. I assumed it was a telemarketer, but I had a strange feeling that something bad was going to happen to us; it wouldn't happen right that minute, but it would happen very soon. For some reason those phone calls gave me that visceral reaction (the pizza might have played a role in that). Then I thought how ridiculous that sounded and stuffed it into the back of my mind.

And then my phone buzzed again … but this time it was my friend Riley.

For context: at the time, Riley was my loyal friend since first grade — eight years — and our friendship was close. It's that stereotypical "I'm the yin, she's the yang" type of friendship. This was the summer before our freshman year, and she and I made a pact that we would stick together and support each other no matter what. I guess that's stereotypical, too, but I didn't mind.

Riley sent me a quick message:

You in key largo yet? Wish i could be there.

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