It was too hot for school so we went to the beach, all of us, the whole class. They must’ve gotten a hold of every one of our parents, to get verbal permission slips. Either that, or it was before the day of such protocols. I went to the beach often, we lived close by. But I’d been nearly swallowed by a wave when I was two so was scared of the water, even at ten. We rolled up our pants if we weren’t wearing shorts. I was already the fattest girl in the class, but I didn’t care. My parents loved me. My father bought me three candy bars every night. Just because I’d asked and couldn’t choose. I never felt like I fit in with the other children. I never felt like I fit in to my own body; it was as if I was always walking through a dream, half asleep and a everything a little bit fuzzy. Maybe it was the sugar. When we got to the beach, some of us started playing jumprope with a long piece of seaweed that was slick and the thickness of our school jumpropes. I loved the pieces of seaweed with the bulbous heads and the kelp hanging from it, like a mermaid dress. I wanted to dance with the seaweed, as I spent hours at home with records on making up dances to go with songs. The dances were always a illustrative—I’d always put my hands on my heart to go with the word love. I wanted to love this seaweed monster for her freakishness. I picked her up and carried her around, even if it meant my hands would end up with that gross feeling of dried salt at the end of the day. When we ate lunch, I put my seaweed friend down and plowed through my cheese sandwich and apple and peanut butter crackers. But before I could finish, stupid Keith (who was in the lowest reading group in the class) stomped on the head of my seaweed friend, popping her open. I vowed never to let him touch the caterpillars I kept on my desk again.