The hose gurgles as it surfaces, sending a spray of water across the plastic of the pool. The sun catches the water, bounces off your skin, hangs itself in the branches of the trees. You dig in the small sandbox as you wait, trucks scattered at your feet, bits of wood jammed into piles of sand as tall as your knees. “I’m building a monster jam,” you tell me, smoothing out a small ramp made of sand. You run your trucks up the crest of each hill, watch them flatten themselves at the bottom as they skid and scrape against the wooden edges of the sandbox. You throw one into the air for a jump, head tilted towards the sun as you watch. It lands at the dog’s feet, making him jump and run to my chair on the patio. You call for him to come back, but he lays his head on his paws under my chair and tucks his tail under his legs, ignoring you.
Your brother wants to play in the sand with you, a matchbox car held tightly in each fist. The two of you dig trenches around the hills, toss his cars inside and bury them. When your brother gets angry that his cars are missing, you dig them out and rinse them off in the pool, small eddies of sand pillowing along the bottom. You hand him the dripping cars and he tosses them into the air, shouting out made up names for the tricks they perform as they land. Your trucks join his in competition and the two of you shout out scores for each truck, pitting them against one another.
When you are both are ready for the pool, you jump in first, shouting out your brother’s name as you splash in the water. As he approaches, you grab the hose and spray him in the chest. He screams and dives towards the pool, tackling you. You both go down with a splash before resurfacing, water beading in your hair like a dog’s. “Mom, watch this!” you call out, throwing yourself back as you float, bottom scraping the ground. Your brother copies you and I clap, your two heads bobbing in the tiny waves. The dog whines underneath my seat, legs scratching at the pavement in a dream.
Your brother’s head sinks below the water and you call out to me for help as you wrap your arms around his chest and pull him upright. He’s spitting water and you rub at his eyes with the back of your hand as I jog over. I reach my arms out to him, expecting tears and his sodden body crushed against mine, but instead he’s laughing. The two of you re-enact the scene over and over again, taking turns dunking your heads in the water. Your hair is dripping, your cheeks flushed from the sun. I stand there for a few minutes, supervising until you whisper to me that you’ll grab him if he falls again.
As I make my way back to my seat with the dog, the two of you are shouting out rules to the new game you’ve just made up that you’re calling “Rescue Baby.” Your brother climbs onto the built-in seat and jumps towards you, arms flailing. As he lands, you snatch him and pull him back to the seat, the two of you laughing. I turn around to sit and almost miss the small kiss you place on his forehead.