"Where do you think we should park the chairs?" her mothers asked, as they withdrew them from the trunk.
"As close to the water as possible. That way, we can spot Aaron easily," Kim responded. So they sat practically in the mud but that was okay because it was an excruciatingly hot day. Aaron immediately removed his little sandals and ran to the shore.
Kim watched the water for a while as she sat on her striped beach chair. Something about the waves rolling in and out, the repeated motion, was so calming. "I can breathe here," Kim said.
"Well I can too," her mother answered, "but ever since we arrived, my nose has been running, and my eyes tearing. I don't know what's wrong with me," and she dabbed both areas with her white towel slung across the chair. "Tell me Kim, what are you going to do about this situation?" she asked changing the subject. "Your husband and children are depending on you."
"Yes, I know they're depending on me<" Kim answered, "but what can I do? Nobody wants to hire me."
"Now Kim, that kind of attitude doesn't get anybody anywhere. It's sure not going to put food on your table."
"Don't you think I know that? Kim asked her. "It's just one of those situations where I just do not want to do!" She watched Aaron out of the corner of her eye. He found a small group of playmates on the beach, boys who were about a year older than him. They were digging a giant hole in the mud surrounded by a sand castle. The boys ran back and forth dripping mud over the top. Aaron squealed with delight as they included him in their play. Despite the heat of the argument with her mother, Kim enjoyed watching him, seeing how easily he adapted to becoming acquainted with new comrades. A slow smile spread over her lips.
"What are you smiling about, Kim?" Mother asked. "We were just discussing something very serious here."
Well I needed to get back to reality, didn't I? Kim asked herself. Just yesterday, she'd spoken with her therapist, Sophia. She went on and on about her job situation or lack of one. Scooping nearby sand, she thought of how she'd told Sophia how much she wanted to remain in her chosen profession. Yet nobody wanted to hire her.
Sophia, a tall woman with soft blond ringlets surrounding her face explained, "You have to look beyond the box, Kim."
"Which box is that?" she asked.
"The one that says you can only work in a public school, " Sophia replied. "I know it's what you want but maybe it's just not possible right now."
Not wanting to accept what Sophia implied, Kim asked, "But what about tenure? And health benefits? Aren't those part of the bigger picture also? And what about the fact that I can't convince anyone to hire me? What does it mean about me?"
"They are important issues," Sophia admitted, leaning back in the soft leather recliner, "But I think you're jumping ahead of yourself. That too can be a box. You need to think about how you're going to get through this academic year, nothing else."
"Maybe that is what I need to think about, Kim mused. She turned to her mother then, tucking that annoying of blonde hair behind her ear. "Maybe there are other options, Mom."
"Well there are private schools and nursery schools," Kim answered.
"Do you really think that where your future lies? In a nursery school, with all your education?"
"Look, I've tried everything I can think of," Kim answered, not looking at her but at the ocean instead. She was watching The eaves breaking toward the shore, and back out again. "My therapist thinks that I should just focus on getting through this year. Maybe I'll actually like it," she laughed.
"I guess you have to do what you think best," her mother answered, obviously not having much faith in Kim's opinion.
Why can't my mother give me any support? Kim wondered, clutching at her stomach. That burning, sick feeling flooded her stomach. It hurts so much, she thought, not sure if she meant her stomach or emotional anguish.
"I wish I were in a position to help you, financially I mean," her mother said, taking a compact out of her straw handbag and examining her eye, "but you know how the stock market has been."
"I didn't ask you to help me," Kim answered, looking once more at the waves. Suddenly she turned and Aaron was not playing with the boys any longer. She scanned the beach to see where she spotted him. He was not standing with the crowds at the edge of the surf, separated by the rope. The lifeguard was sitting in his stand, oblivious.
Kim jumped up, and called, "Aaron, Aaron, where are you? Mom, I don't see Aaron, do you?"