St. George's Summers

That little island off the coast of northern Florida, along the Gulf where the waves never beat or pound, but lap. The four of us almost completely isolated from the real world, save the running children and stingrays. Crossing the bridge, we'd ride wide-eyed into the southern port town of Apalachicola. Old buildings lined the bay and steamers crept through the calm waters. We sat in the same dimly lit restaurant, pelicans watching as we fed ourselves raw, butter and breadcrumb oysters. Those were the days before mom banned all raw seafood for fear of food poisoning. The oysters sizzled in their rough, blue-black shells and their slippery bodies baked in the setting sun of late summer. Little sister sat, one knee up, tanned tips fingering the oily shellfish she slipped the small gem between her watering lips. Full teeth smile spreads across her face and we all laugh at the small wonder. Mom and Dad hold their breath as my fingers begin their reach. They anticipate a complaint, but my mouth waters and I bite. The smooth surface rides my tongue; the breadcrumbs tickle my lips and the butter seeps slowly down my throat. Still holding, Mom and Dad's eyes secretly focus on me from behind their dark sunglasses. I smile at the pearl dissolving on my tongue. Staring at them through their lenses I let them know I'm fine. They smile at me, contented at my satisfaction. Mom's fingers reach for the frame of her dark lenses as the sun sets, and her eyes meet mine. In the soft moonlight she realizes the proximity of summer's end. A sigh. Smiling softly, Dad holds her hand. The darkness brings realization of the approaching fall, and as gems of summer dissolve between our tongues, we silently agree that it is time to let go.