To Build A Sand Castle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "No!" I repeat to Joey. "I do not want to build a sand castle with you."

My little brother Joey is always pestering me about something like this. He always comes up to me and says, "Billie, play Candyland with me. Billie, watch Power Rangers with me." I guess that is what four-year-old boys always do to their older sisters.

"Please?" he asks again.

Now is the time that my mother always interferes. She says "Billie, you know that Joey really wants to build a sand castle with you."

"But, Mom," I say, "I wanted to go swimming again."

"You can go swimming after you help Joey," Mom says.

I plead, "But, Mom ..."

"No buts," she says. "Go help your brother."

Of course, I have to help the little twirp. "All right, worm-face," I say, "let's go build a sand castle."

Joey cheers with joy, "Yeah!"

I leave my comfortable position on my towel and follow Joey. He leads me to an area of the beach where nobody has set up their stuff. The sand is so hot that my feet begin to burn. Finally, Joey sits down and takes out his little plastic shovels.

I pick up the red shovel and begin to dig. "No!" Joey says. "My shovel. I use red shovel. You use yellow shovel."

I retort, "What difference does it make?"

He whines, "My shovel. Give me back my shovel. I use red shovel."

I give the baby the red shovel and begin to dig in the sizzling sand. I throw the sand behind me into a big pile. At the same time, Joey is digging, and his extra sand is thrown into my hole, I ask, "How do you intend to get anything done if you keep filling my hole?"

He replies, "We're not making hole. We're making sand castle. You don't need no hole."

"Look Joey, this hole is going to surround the castle."

"No hole. We're making castle."

I decide to stop arguing with the kid. He is only four - obviously he does not understand what I am trying to make. I continue to dig around the large pile he has made. He begins to fill little cups with hard sand. He pours the contents of the cup on the little hill we have made. It makes a tower on one end of the castle.

Accidentally, I trip and knock over the tower. Soon, I hear cries coming from Joey. "You ruined my sand castle. I hate you. It's broken. Go away, Billie. I never want to see you again."

For some reason, I feel really bad for Joey. He was really excited about building this sand castle, and I ruined it. I imagine what kind of pain that must cause a four-year-old - having your joy crushed. To top it off, I was the one who crushed the castle.

"I'm sorry Joey," I say. "I can help you fix it."

"No," Joey says.

"Come on, Joey. It isn't that bad. We can fix the tower and build a few more."

"You ruin it."

"But look." I take the cup and fill it with the hard sand. I pour the contents of the cup where the old tower was.

A smile comes to Joey's face. "You fix it!" he cheers.

I pick up the red shovel and prepare to dig. I immediately realize, though, that the red shovel is Joey's. I give it to him and take the yellow shovel. We begin to fill other cups to build other towers.

Once the towers are placed, the pile of sand no longer looks like a pile of sand. It now looks like a pile of sand with little mounds on it. Joey seems to see something more, though. I think he really sees a castle with kings, queens and knights. His imagination is allowing him to see things I have not pictured in years. I suddenly wonder what happened to my imagination.

"We need to draw bridge," Joey says.

"What did you say?" I ask.

"The princess in tower can't be rescued if there is no drawbridge. How can we make drawbridge, Billie?"

I build a pile of hard sand where the bridge will be. Very carefully, I remove some of the underpart of the pile in order to make a bridge.

I am happy to see the smile on Joey's face as he cheers, "Yeah! We're almost done with sand castle. Now we need door."

Is Joey crazy? It's been years since I have built a sand castle, and I have never built a door. I say, "How are we going to make a door?"

Joey replies, "The stick."

"What?" I ask.

"Make stick scratch a gate and door."

Joey hands me a small twig. I use it to scrape the outline of a gate in front of the drawbridge. Very carefully I draw the bars crossing each other to form an impenetrable wall.

My mom comes over to the castle. She asks, "How is it going?"

Joey responds, "We made castle with the towers. In this tower there is a princess being made prisoner. And prince is going to cross drawbridge to enter gate and rescue her. But on the way out he's going to get thrown into river under the bridge. The princess is going to get home, but he is going to die."

"My, what an imagination!" my mom says."How are you, Billie?"

"I'm fine. We had fun making the castle. Didn't we, Joey?"

Joey responded, "She broke the tower, but then she made it fixed."

My mom says, "You can go swimming now, Billie."

"Thanks, Mom. Joey, do you want

to come?"

"Yeah!" Joey cheers.

"Are you sure you want to bring your brother?"

"I'm sure."

Maybe little brothers aren't that bad once you get used to them. It is actually fun to play with Joey. I guess I should try doing what he likes more often. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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