A Day at the Beach
It had been raining forever or at least for almost eight straight days, and gloomy weather fever was threatening Above and Below. Leaks were an ever constant issue in the tunnels normally, but this amount of rain could cause dangerous situations if the leaks were not kept in check. But with their normal efficiency, leaks where kept to a minimum, especially with the years of practice and some ingenuity on Mouse’s part. Vincent was not called upon as much as he was prior to having his family; they had learned to depend on themselves more and not take advantage of him or abuse his privacy. Only when the work required his strength and exceptional know how was he summoned.
Today, Catherine was running errands with the Jacob and Charles, and would be gone for several hours. The two younger children stayed home with their father with, it seemed, too much pent up energy. He now understood that little smirk on her face when she kissed them all good bye.
"Rain, rain go away come again another day," was heard from the study almost constantly lately. Jenny and her twin Joey loved singing the song, hoping in vain to make the rain stop. Their older brothers had told them it might help stop the rain; advice only older brothers would give. Vincent would speak to the Jacob and Charles later, and thank them for their help. Their singing of that song was even beginning to test Vincent’s limitless patience.
"Children, perhaps a new song would be more beneficial…or even better, I’ll read to you so you may give your throats a rest. Try to find a book about good weather and maybe that will help," he suggested hopefully.
"OK Daddy we’ll look for a good weather book," Jenny said.
"That’s a good idea," Joey yelled as they ran to their room across the hall.
With any luck they’ll be busy for a little while…ah…yes a quiet few minutes will be a blessing and I don’t think there is a good weather book, he thought as he dropped on the old leather couch. He had just closed his eyes and relaxed when he heard shrieks emanating from their room.
He searched the Bond as he jumped up to see what caused the commotion; he sensed only joy coming from his two youngest gifts as he liked to refer to them on occasion to tease Catherine.
"Daddy…Daddy look at the book we found, it’s called A Day at the Beach, and it has good weather in it look," Jenny said with glee. She held open the book to the center spread and came upon a sunny beach scene, complete with blue skies, beach umbrellas and children playing in the sand.
He just grinned and a small chuckle deep in his chest relieved the frustration he had felt earlier. He loved being a father and the chaos of their daily lives never dulled the love for all of the gifts he had been given.
"All right children, up on the couch and I’ll read your book, and then maybe we can find some cookies in the kitchen, will that be a good plan?"
"Yes it’s a good plan Daddy," Jenny said smiling and letting her dimples show. Her sparkling green eyes reminding him of her beautiful mother, yes he was blessed.
He read their book, and to his delight got big hugs and kisses from them. They both climbed on his back for a "piggy back" ride to the kitchen for cookies and a glass of milk. They loved spending special time with their father; he always made them feel important, but most of all loved.
"Daddy I wish we could go the beach and play in the sand and swim and have a picnic too…don’t you?" Jenny asked without taking a breath.
Now I know why we called her after Aunt Jenny, same dynamic speech pattern, he thought.
"Jennifer, it would be fun I’m sure, are you thinking about the story I read to you and Joseph? Perhaps your mother can take you and your brothers to the beach when the weather is better and school is out. I’m sure all of you will have lots of fun together." He started to have feelings of guilt about not being able to take his children to something as simple as the beach.
"No Daddy, you have to come too, all of us…the whole family" Joey pleaded.
"Joseph, you know I can’t go…out in the daylight, people wouldn’t understand," he said trying to deflect their thinking.
"It’s not fair Daddy…it’s not fair" Joey said defiantly, crossing his arms and pouting!
"Joseph, I’m sorry I can’t…perhaps when you are a little older…"
"No Daddy, it’s not you…it’s people who don’t love you like we do, we love you big as the sky and we don’t want any other Daddy do we Jenny?"
"Nope, you’re the best Daddy in the whole world, even Mommy says so and Mommy don’t tell lies" she stated, and then they ran to him and hugged him tightly around his knees.
Vincent knelt down and hugged his children to his chest with tears filling his eyes. His heart felt like it would surely burst and then he felt her sending love through the bond. She had felt his guilt and then his love pouring out for his little ones, who had given him their gift of love and protection.
"Daddy don’t be sad" Jenny said quietly, softly kissing his cheek.
"I’m not sad Princess" he whispered to her.
"Yes you are, there’s water in your eyes and that means you’re sad," she told him confidently.
"Jennifer, sometimes when you have…water in you eyes it means you are really happy, and you two have made me really happy at this moment" he told them kissing each of their chubby little cheeks.
Later that evening after the children were asleep, they lay spent from their loving, enclosed in each others arms. Catherine felt a small tinge of sadness in the bond and was sure it had to do with what she had felt earlier in the day from him at Jenny’s request.
"Vincent, do you remember the trip we took down into the lower tunnels right after we married," she smiled wickedly running her hands through the soft hair on his chest and then tugging?
"It’s ok my love, I wanted to be sure you were paying attention. Now back to the tunnels, remember we found that cavern where water from the ocean mixed with the warm spring, and it even had a sandy beach if I recall? It was only about a half days walk, not really bad even for the Jenny and Joey. There was even some natural light from high up in the cavern ceiling that gave almost enough light, some torches and a few beach umbrellas just might do the trick, what do you think?"
He closed his eyes and smiled as he remembered their little getaway trip.
"You know my beauty, I believe you are correct. We could make a long weekend of it and all of us would certainly benefit from the gloomy weather relief. I tell you Catherine, if I have to hear the "rain" song much more I don’t know what I’ll do. That reminds me I need speak to Jacob and Charles about encouraging their younger siblings a little too fervently."
They snuggled down in each others arms and slept peacefully for the remainder of the night. The next morning they quietly made their plans after the kids left for school. They would leave Friday after the gang was home from school, they would get all packed and surprise them. William will be glad to help with the foods they would need and would have everything ready and packed for the trip. She would see he had all the supplies he needed, plus extra for all of the community to enjoy.
"Oh Vincent this will be a great adventure for the children and us, a day at the beach with our whole family, I’m really excited are you?"
"I believe you are expanding my world again, I’ve never had a day at the beach, my love, and yes I am excited. Hmmm…since the children have gone off to school and I have no pressing duties Below…"
He scooped her up in his arms and headed for their bedroom to show her just how really excited he was.
Catherine giggled. "And you say I’m incorrigible?"
Early the next morning he and Mouse decided to do a quick trip to the cavern to get things set up, the two of them could travel faster and be back by dinner. Mouse of course was more than happy to help his best friend and his family. They took beach umbrellas that Catherine had purchased, extra torches and wood for campfires, anything that would make the families’ journey easier.
Catherine went shopping for a few extras to make it a fun trip. Some small buckets and shovels for the twins to play in the sand, inflatable beach balls, and colorful beach towels. She was careful not to get too much, remembering they had to carry everything with them. Of course Vincent and the older boys would carry the heavy stuff. She grinned devilishly. Ah yes, it’s good to have big strong males about for us poor defenseless females!
She even remembered to get marshmallows to toast. Vincent liked toasted marshmallows as she recalled, actually he like me licking the sweet residue from his lips a lot more, she recalled mischievously.
They managed to keep their secret completely from the children, which in itself was a minor miracle. Friday afternoon came to find everyone in the brownstone kitchen for a little family meeting. The children were all looking curiously at each other as if to say, it wasn’t me or I didn’t do it!
Catherine laughed inside, thinking I have never seen such a guilty looking group in my kitchen before.
"Ok kids, your father and I have a little surprise for all of you; how would you all like to go the beach?"
"Yea, the beach" they all shouted together! There were high fives all around.
"Mommy…Daddy can’t go to the beach, it’s not fair," Jenny said looking distraught.
"Jenny, my sweet child, this is a special beach where we all can go, especially your father," she said as she slipped her hand into his and squeezed lightly.
Jenny came over and tugged on his arm, "Daddy, I have water in my eyes ‘cause I’m really happy."
He picked her up and hugged her tightly, "Me too Princess, me too," he whispered in her ear.
"Ok, let’s get going, everything is ready Below for us to start on our trip," he said ushering everyone to the hidden tunnel door.
Everyone had a pack to carry, the twins had light packs to feel important and teach responsibility. With hugs all around and thanks to William for the food packs, they set off on their first family trip to the beach. They walked at a pace that wouldn’t tire the younger ones out too quickly. Just going together as a regular family was a gift of it’s own to Catherine and Vincent one they would always treasure in their memories.
It ended up with Vincent and Jacob carrying the Jenny and Joey for the last hour of the journey.
"Daddy are we there yet?" Jenny asked, lifting her head off her fathers’ shoulder.
Catherine stopped dead in her tracks and started smiling; he just looked at her quizzically. She standing there smiling with tears in her eyes.
"Catherine, what makes you smile" he could feel it through the bond, so much joy, it puzzled him?
"Daddy, Mommy is really happy I think, she has water in her eyes," Jenny said as surprised as her father.
"Oh Vincent we really are a normal family, Jenny’s’ question was as normal as any child’s going on vacation, thank you my sweet little girl, you made Mommie’s day big time!"
With that she took her daughter’s face between her hands and gave her a big noisy kiss, then her husband’s, much to his surprise and delight.
Jacob looked at her brothers with a grin and said, "Come on guys, she getting mushy, let’s get moving before she gets us too!"
And so they started off again to their destination, Vincent and Jacob each arrived with a sleeping child on his shoulder. The camp was completely set up. Mouse had come back to light the torches and start the campfire for dinner a little before they arrived and quietly went back another way so no one saw him. Vincent smiled; he would thank Mouse for the special thoughts.
Everyone was surprised and excited; it looked wonderful and "beachy", according to Jenny. They set about unpacking and starting dinner; Jenny and Joey were busy checking out the umbrellas and asking Jacob and Charles to blow up the beach balls.
"First we eat, we wouldn’t want William to think we didn’t like his food now would we? Let’s see what we have, hot dogs, potato salad, fruit and lots of picnic stuff. I even think he gave us lemonade to complete the treat," she said appreciatively. Williams was an extra blessing in their lives.
Dinner over, they sat back and watched the kids play with the beach balls, chase each other around and basically have a good time. They were also hoping they would tire out soon and settle down for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow would be filled with swimming and fun for all of them.
Catherine pulled out the marshmallows, enticing all of them to sit down and enjoy toasting and eating them. She looked at him with a sad smile, no licking the sweetness from his lips tonight, she thought. He gave her his best sad face and then his best devious look.
There will .definitely be lip licking tonight. he promised himself.
Jacob and Charles set the sleeping bags up while she got the twins ready to go to bed; they put the little kid’s sleeping bags between them and set their parent’s off to the side. Jacob and Charles were good big brothers, they each were responsible for one of the little ones, and this came from tunnel living part of their lives. Protection of the smaller children was the rule they grew up with, as they themselves had once been.
Early the next morning he woke to a small weight on his chest, opening his eyes he looked into his daughter’s sleepy green eyes and smiled.
"Good morning Jennifer," he whispered.
"Morning Daddy, you were making my favorite sound again, and it feels good too when I lay on your tummy like this."
Catherine, not even opening her eyes started to chuckle softly," I think our daughter likes your purring as much as I do and I believe she’s in my favorite spot too."
"So it would seem," he whispered, kissing his sleeping daughter’s head that was snuggled under his chin.
"Catherine, this may be one of your best attempts at expanding my world; it so peaceful, I can feel love filling the whole cavern. It’s as if the sun is shinning just on me, warming me with all the love possible in the universe. Thank you, my love" then reaching for her hand he tenderly kissed it.
He dare not move, Jenny was still sleeping on his chest and he wished not to her wake yet. He wanted to savor the moment and store it in his memory to bring out again and again until he was no more.
"Stay still, I’ll stoke the fire and put water on for tea, before all hell breaks loose when everyone is up. We’ll have breakfast and fun, then we can swim and have more fun all day, Oh Vincent I’m so happy, this is our first real family vacation, I declare we make it an annual event."
Breakfast over, Catherine, Jenny and Joey were building sand castles, Vincent, Jacob and Charles were tossing a football around and teasing each other. Jacob would yell "go deep Dad" and throw it as far as he could. Vincent always caught it with ease. She marveled at his grace of movement, He is poetry in motion and he looks real good in his swimming trunks too, was her thought.
Swimming was finally in order about midmorning, the water was perfect. All of the children were taught at an early age to swim at the Mirror Pool; they took to water like ducks and made as much noise.
Catherine loved to watch Vincent swim, so smooth, gliding through the water with no effort it seemed. He would setthe little kids on his back, taking them deep and then surfacing quickly to hear them squeal with glee. Their laughter soothed all guilt feelings he had had at the beginning.
They swam together and then sat on the sand to watch their children playing, and laughing, simply enjoying being carefree. They knew they were truly blessed and savored all the joy that came with it.
"I think this trip is a winner, everyone is having so much fun. I’m glad the kids found that book and gave us the idea. Vincent how can we be so lucky? I know at first you felt guilty, but your world has made all the difference for us. We can actually be freer here than above, no sunburn, no trash on the beach and no bullies to kick sand in our faces. Come to think of it, no bully would dare kick sand in your face," she said dipping her head, smiling and throwing sand at his chest.
Then she got up and ran into the water with him right behind her. They made a big splash and went deep to come up laughing and kissing.
"Don’t pay any attention to them, they’re just being mushy," a grinning Jacob said to his siblings and shaking his head. He knew his parents had something extraordinary between them and he hoped someday to find his Catherine.
The day was wonderful; they had a light lunch, a little nap and then back into the water for all. After dinner and clean up, he read to them and soon all of the children were asleep, it had been a long day and they used up lot of their extra energy.
They walked down hand in hand to the other end of the beach to a small alcove he spotted when he was catching ball with the boys. He brought a blanket with him and spread it out on the sand, then picked her up and kissed her softly before laying her on the blanket. "I think we can forgo the marshmallows," he whispered. He snuggled down beside her, kissing, touching, and loving her. They lay entwined, lost in their love for each other for hours. She finally fell asleep in his arms; he just lay there watching her sleep a habit he could not and would not ever get enough of, it gave him so much happiness.
When he felt the children starting to wake, he woke her so they would be back at the campsite before the children noticed they were not there. They went back and started to make tea and oatmeal with dried fruit, one of everyone’s favorite. After breakfast they would get everything organized for the trip home later in the day. They would spend the rest of
the morning swimming and playing with the children, after lunch they would start back and hopefully be in time for William’s wonderful Sunday dinners.
Finally the house was quiet; the commotion of getting home, unpacked, ready for and into bed was done. Sleep came to the children almost immediately; a tired parent’s gift indeed.
They showered together, and went to the study to relax and treasure the memories of their family weekend at the beach.
She sat on his lap; his arms around her, hers around his neck, remembering how happy their family was this weekend.
"Catherine, there is so much joy in me at this moment I can hardly breathe, and then you add the joy I felt from you and the children I feel my spirit soaring higher and higher."
"My love, you give all of us so much love every day in so many ways we can’t begin to tell you the joy you bring into our lives. If our children find someone half as good as you to love they will count themselves blessed. I myself know without any reservations that I am the most blessed of all to have you to love and be loved by you." She reached up to kiss his eyes, his cheeks, his nose and finally his waiting lips.
"Oh and one more thing…did I tell you how sexy you looked in your swimming trunks, big guy?"