That’s Life


Marissa and I splashed in the Atlantic Ocean. The water was warmer than our lake in Minnesota. It tasted like salt. I taught my little sister

how to float. When our fingers wrinkled, we played on the beach. Marissa cried when the rain ruined her sand castle.

As usual, my Dad said, “That’s life.”

“That’s life,” I repeated. I covered my head with my beach towel. “Marissa, I’ll race you to our hotel room!”

My sister’s legs were longer than mine. She always won.

Marissa tossed her wet swimsuit out the bathroom door. “Mom!” I whined. “Marissa hit me with her drippy suit!”

Mom was setting out clothes for our last day of vacation. In the morning we were going to the Magic Kingdom!

In my pajamas, I squeezed between Marissa and Dad on the couch. “Dad, I saved enough money for the Princess Dress.”       

Marissa elbowed my ribs. “I’m buying a Daisy Duck doll.”

I poked her back. “That’s a baby toy.”

“Time for bed.” Mom pointed to the clock.

Marissa was under her blankets when I finished brushing my teeth.

I opened my coin purse. “Are you excited?” I straightened dollar bills and counted all my coins. “Marissa?”

Marissa groaned. “My stomach hurts.”

“Maybe you drank too much ocean.”

Marissa’s cheeks were the color of cherries.

Holding the thermometer close to her eyes, Mom said, “Cancel Disney World.”

Dad nodded. “That’s life.”

“Why do you always say, ‘that’s life’?” I wanted to cry.

“Getting angry won’t stop the rain or make Marissa well.” Dad tucked the sheet under Marissa’s chin. “We’ll come back some day.”

After Marissa fell asleep, I counted my money again. I looked at my sister. The fever made her forehead sweaty.

Mom checked Marissa’s temperature a second time. “Still too high.”

Dad wiped a tear from my cheek. “I guess it’s just you and me tomorrow.”

“Yes!” I pumped my fist in the air. Just Dad and me for the whole day!

After a breakfast of Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes, we drove into a huge parking lot.

I asked, “We have to park way back here?”

“There’s a tram,” said Dad. “We don’t have to walk far.” He unbuckled my seatbelt.

“I’m too tired to walk.”

“Okay, we’ll head back to the hotel.” Dad started to buckle me up.

“No way!” I got out of the car. “That’s life!”

Dad and I walked down Main Street. I stared at Cinderella’s castle in the distance.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel like flying on the elephant ride without Marissa sitting next to me. I peered into my coin purse. “Could we buy my princess dress first?”

In the gift shop, Dad held up the shiny gold dress. A little girl hugging a Daisy Duck doll bumped into me. I wondered if Marissa was still sick. Was she sad?


At the hotel, I knocked our secret family knock. 

Mom opened the door. “You’re back early!”

I ran to Marissa’s bed with my hands behind my back. My sister’s eyes were red.

“Where’s your princess dress?” asked Marissa.

“I bought something better.”

Marissa yawned. “Did you ride Dumbo?”

“Nope. Not without you.” I tossed two gray stuffed animals into the air.

“Dumbo!” squealed Marissa.

I picked up the elephants and put one in Marissa’s lap. I scooted close to my sister. “I’m sorry you’re sick.”

Marissa said, “I’m sorry I’m sick too.”

We giggled. “That’s life!”


~ Placed 3rd in Abilene Writer’s Guild Annual Contest









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