“Did you catch any fish?,” a little yet persuasive voice had me looked back and… down. Those big, green, questioning eyes with thick, curly lashes made me pause completely. I had to control myself from gushing..what a cute tiny lady!

Then she spoke again, “Could you take these?” She meant the two air-filled swimming gears wrapping her small arms. Gladly, I came to her and took those tight stuff from her arms.

“Were you swimming alone?” I queried.

“I’m with my dad and Ale (his brother),” she replied, pointing her finger to a thin, blond  boy swimming close by and a tall, smiling guy from a distance..

We sat on the sand. Then her brother walked towards us.

“You’re Ali,right?”, I asked. “Yes, I’m Ale with an “e.”

“His name is Alexander”,said Carmen.

“And she’s Juju,” teased Ale. I saw Carmen’s forehead wrinkled, looking confused more than annoyed. Then he went on, “Her name is Carmen Juliet but we call her Juju.”

While sharing bits of stories that brought us to Mamzar Beach that fateful day, Juju munched all the chips so she ran to her dad and took two small plastics of Doritos, then Ate Alma came to give us some drinks. I gave her water, which didn’t seem to satisfy her, so I shared my Mirinda.

When I felt the sun burning my back, I opted for a quick plunge leaving Juju with Ate Alma. Juju asked me to catch some fish for her. I knew it’s absurd to try to get some fish without tools but I couldn’t break her heart by saying so. She’s too hopeful, it’s tough to be honest.

Perhaps tired of talking and just looking, she came near the shore and shouted at me. “Come, come!”

I followed her while quietly cursing the hot sandy surface, she stopped at the hammock. How observant. I hardly saw that spot. She asked me to sway the handle. And I did so.

“Reach the sky!,” shouted I.

“What is “reach”?,” asked Juju. Her dad is French while her mom is Mexican, so English is just her second language.

“To catch something high with your hand,” I was glad her face brightened at that.

Signaling a halt, I ceased the swaying. She went down, and tapped the hammock’s seat with her right hand,  apparently saying it’s my turn. I laughed at the thought but I struggled not to show it. I helped her swing the hammock. I heard the sweet whisper of the wind while my eyes were closed. And when I opened them, Juju was asking again, “do you want sandwich?”

She’s got a dragon in her tiny belly. Yet her feet are jelly. She could hardly walk on the coal-like sand.

I gave her a piggyback ride to the shore.

And the day went on as if it’s not going to end. Though it did.

I don’t normally like young girls yet Juju is not the normal girl you can ignore. She’s my small fish always wanting to be chased. She never plans anything yet she’s getting what she needs. She doesn’t care if her curls are all over her face. Or if the sand entered her nostrils. By the way, she loves surprising me with beach stones that looked ugly, yet her persistence would convince me to keep them. I did fall in love with Juju, did I not?

By Issa

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