She handed her camera to the old man with a whisper before skipping down the shore. He chucked to himself as she tackled her younger brother and best friend. She pulled on the sleeve of one of the other girls and whispered something in her ear. The four children were all laughing and talking, though Ellie’s younger brother looked somewhat sheepish to be with them.
“Come on, Reuben!” Ellie laughed, “Can’t you see us? When we’re adults, we’ll buy a yacht and spend the rest of our lives out at see!”
The old man held up the little camera and snapped a picture in that moment.
Reuben’s eyes were as big as saucers, Ellie was pulling on his sleeve with a gigantic grin. The other two children were around them, smiling or laughing, one couldn’t be too sure.
Ellie held the old photo in her hands, now manicured and coated with clear nail polish. A gentle smile creased her face as she set it back on her desk. Only ten more documents to type up and she could go home. She sighed, yacht days sounded so far away. She couldn’t remember the names of the other three children in the photo, to her dismay. As her hands glided across the keyboard, she heard a tremendous crash behind her cubicle.
Ellie had looked so beautiful that day. Jonathan found himself blaming the sun for the red in his cheeks throughout the entire trip. As he watched her skip off to his grandfather, he gazed out over the ocean and wondered why the rest of their lives couldn’t be this way.
“Now son, one day you’ll understand why people have to work. Then everything will change.”
He hated the words his dad loved to repeat every other week. That day, however, that day was perfect.
Reuben was sort of off to the side, so Jonathan nudged him. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t belong with you guys,” Reuben scrunched his face up. “You’re all good friends, but I just got here.”
Before Jonathan could respond, Ellie hopped back in the group and started spinning a story to Reuben about a yacht. All Jonathan remembered was the sparkle in her eyes.
Jonathan’s mind slammed back into reality when his mail cart slammed into an unsuspecting business woman with a very angry face. Slipping his headphones back to his neck, Jonathan attempted to form some sort of apology while he slipped the photo back into his pocket with his left hand. His dress shirt suddenly felt extremely stuffy, yacht days seemed so far gone.
Jenna had worn her new blue dress to the beach and her heart was floating sky high. She watched Reuben shrink away from the group and frowned, but Ellie tugged on her sleeve. “You like him, don’t you?” She winked, causing Jenna to blush.
“What are you talking about?!” Jenna couldn’t think of anything else to say, so she pursed her lips.
Ellie laughed, “It’s okay, my little brother is pretty cute, huh?”
Jenna smiled and before too long, she found herself laughing with everyone.
Ellie pulled her brother into the group for a surprise photo, Jonathan’s grandfather took them to a shop to get one printed for each of them afterwards. Ellie couldn’t stop going on about some yacht for the rest of the day. But when Reuben was holding his photo, Jenna slipped herself beside him.
“Now you’re a part of us, see?” She pointed to his face in the photo and smiled. “Don’t forget me, okay? You’re a part of us now.”
Jenna brushed her skirt down and started walking down the hall. Managing this little travel agency was far too much stress sometimes. She folded the photo and tucked it back in her purse while she walked. Everyone grew up, surely they forgot her. Of course they did. She wondered why she couldn’t just forget them too. Her busy thoughts were interrupted by some idiot of a mail boy crashing into her. With full intentions to get him fired, she asked for his name.
Reuben had just moved in with his mother. Having two families was complicated and he was afraid that Ellie’s new friends wouldn’t want him to join them. He watched them all laugh and joke on the beach, but he was sure they didn’t like him. One of the girls had a really pretty dress on, and he loved the way her hair shone in the sunlight.
Ellie tricked him into falling for some yacht story and the old man watching them snapped a photo of the moment. While they were walking back from getting it developed, the pretty girl snuck up behind him. “Hey.”
“Hey.” He bit his lip, she was talking to him?
“You’re part of us now, okay? Don’t forget me.” She smiled at him, and it was the best day of his life.
Reuben stuck the photo back in his wallet as the elevator dinged. Second floor, baby. His big sister had worked in a promotion for him in the travel agency. He smiled and sighed, maybe this would be the ticket to that yacht his sister had never stopped dreaming about. Though, he hadn’t seen the other kids in years. Life gets crazy, people forget. He couldn’t forget her, though. Suddenly, everything stopped. Outside of his sister’s cubicle was the most curious scene. Some mail room kid had knocked into a beautiful woman in a blue business suit- it couldn’t be.
He pulled out the photo again as they all looked up at him.