Ben and Jess: Sibs Escape the Rain

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Ben and Jess. Sibs escape the rain for a day at the beach.

This is my first submission. The beach is a composite of several beaches in the Kona area. Body surfing is possible at Spencer Beach; some of the others may have dangerous rocks. I’ve never tried tandem body surfing but would love to.

Jess stared at the solitaire hand she had just dealt herself and signed. Nothing to do but play on, she thought, fingering the cards absentmindedly. She looked over at her younger brother, sprawled out on the couch across from the table where she sat, and frowned at him. He was reading a book called, “A Natural History of Hawaii,” and seemed totally engrossed. Why this seemed to annoy her so completely she wasn’t sure.

“Jess,” he called.

Oh, god, she thought. Here comes another fun fact from Mr. Ben, Wizard of the Wonky.

“Jess,” he said again. “Did you know that there are two different kinds of lava on the Big Island? One of them is smooth and is called, ‘phanohoe’, and the other is rough and sharp and is called, ‘a’a’. I wonder if it’s because the rock itself is different or whether it’s because the rate of cooling is different, which would give it a different crystal structure, don’t you think?”

“Ben,” she said. “I wouldn’t have the foggiest. All I know is that I’m extremely, totally, utterly bored.”

“Well there’s nothing we can do about the weather. So why make yourself miserable?”

“Why are you so effing annoying? I think I have a new name for you: ‘Wiz’. As in ‘Wizard of Wonk’. That’s what you are, the ‘Wizard of Wonk.'”

“So ‘Dork’ and ‘Nerd’ aren’t sufficient. You needed another one. I guess that’s how you pass the time, making up names for me. Very productive.”

“They all fit you. It just gives me some options, depending on the situation.”

“Love you too, Sis,” he said.

Jess walked to the window and stared out at the pouring rain. It waxed and waned but when it waxed it returned with a roar, even though there was no wind to speak of. Just the roar of the pouring rain, a monsoon, falling straight down, harder than she had ever seen it rain. Hawaii. The Big Island.

It was supposed to be their last big family trip together. A fun time with hiking and beaches and plenty of time to lie in the sun, flirt with beautiful guys, read trashy novels, sneak off at night and get drunk. Her spring break. For her it was going to be better than the silly Florida bacchanals. Done that. For her brother, a dubious hiatus in his spring baseball training, but worth it, he had decided. Her parents had and saved and scrimped and planned and now, here they were, cooped up in a rental house for 6 days in Hawaii, in the rain, getting on each other’s nerves. She should have stayed home.

“Hey Dork,” she said. “Check the forecast. How many more days do we have of this?”

“I just checked it a few hours ago, Jess. It’s not gonna change.”

Two more days of rain. Then a chance of clearing. Maybe. Her spring break, ticking away.

The rain seemed to let up for a minute. It always seemed to let up for a minute, sometimes 10 minutes, but then the monsoon returned. As it cleared she saw the forest shrouded in mist surrounding them on all sides. So much for hot sun, warm surf and pristine beaches. They were staying in a rain forest jungle. The only good thing about it was that it was warm; they were having a snow storm back East.

A family of wild pigs waddled out onto their rudimentary lawn: a sow and 8 piglets, moving across the puddled driveway toward the opposite woods.

“Ben, look! Wild pigs! A whole family!”

Her brother came to the window and watched a huge sow and her piglets disappear into the dense foliage. “Cool, thanks for showing me. That lady looks pretty intimidating. I guess hunting them isn’t working very well.”

Ben had already recounted to his sister how the Hawaiian government had tried for a while to eradicate the feral pigs because of the environmental damage they did, to say nothing of the damage to lawns and shrubbery. This, in addition to his little asides on Hawaiian geology, history and wildlife.

Ben was a voracious reader, curious and quick-minded. But he had the habit of somehow assuming that his innocent enthusiasm for whatever he was reading would be shared by whoever else was in his vicinity. Thus came, “Hey Jess, did you know…,” which annoyed her so, and prompted her numerous nicknames. Mostly, Jess pretended to be annoyed more than she was. Secretly she found his habit endearing and never interrupting him when he got going. It was fun seeing the world through his curious eyes, even though she mocked him for it.

So what would today bring? She tried to imagine what activities her parents were cooking up. Yesterday, their first full day on the island, they had boldly tried to hike despite the rain but it ended up with all of them soaked and muddy despite rain jackets and umbrellas. The trail was a river of mud so slippery that each of them wound up falling several times. They retreated to the rental house for hot showers bahis firmaları and dry clothes and tried sightseeing from the car. This, too, proved impossible, so they wound up spending the afternoon at the Tsunami Museum in Hilo, which was interesting, for about an hour. There didn’t seem to be many options, really. Not with it raining like this.

“Tell me, oh master of all knowledge” she said. “Is there someplace on this island where it’s not raining?”

“Kona, most likely,” he said. “There are places north of Kona that get only about 10 inches of rain per year. Here around Hilo, we get about 130. That’s about 11 feet of rain per year.”

“Why does all of it have to fall this week? Couldn’t we have stayed in Kona instead of Hilo?”

At this point their mother entered from the den, where she and their father had been reading. “Because, dear children, we could not afford that side of the island. One of you is in college and the other is about to start. Remember? It was a gamble coming to this side of the island and I guess we lost.” They’d had this conversation before.

“Sorry, mom,” said Jess. “I guess I need some diversion besides playing cards with myself and listening to Ben reciting fun facts about a place that it’s too rainy to see.”

“There’s some interesting books that people have left in the shelf over there.”

“I suppose…”

“Jessie, sweetie. I think we’re stuck for today. Maybe tomorrow it will let up some and we can head to the Volcano Park.”

“That would be terrific. Sorry to be so bitchy.”

Her mother smiled. Her mother, always the optimist, so unlike Jess herself. Jess felt her skin crawl as she contemplated spending the day here in the rain, trying to interest herself in one of the drugstore novels people had left behind. Making the best of things was not her way. There must be something…”

“Mom, what if Ben and I take the car and drive to Kona and find a beach for the day? It’s still early and we’ve already had breakfast. We could be back tonight. What do you think?”

“I don’t know if your father and I want to be stuck without a car. Besides, there’s a lot around here we haven’t seen yet.”

“Mom, driving around sitting in the back seat with the windows fogged up staring out into the rain at sights we can’t see… We did that yesterday.”

“Let me see what your dad says. Maybe he and I can be without a car for a day.”

Jess and Ben were silent as they listened to the murmurs of discussion coming from the den. Their mother returned with the verdict.

“We decided to rent a second car for the day,” she said. “You and Ben take the one we have but drop us off at the airport rental booth on your way.”

“WOOHOO!” Jess shouted. “Beach day! C’mon Dork, let’s get packing!”

Ben burst into a smile. If his sister was going to keep calling him “Dork”, at least it would be where the sun was shining and the water warm. He first went down to the garage where he had seen a six-pack sized cooler that they could use to pack sandwiches and water, then back upstairs to fetch his swimsuit, sun glasses, water shoes and sweatshirt, in case it got cold in the evening.

His sister appeared carrying a canvas shoulder bag. “Did you bring sandals?” asked Ben. “And a t-shirt and sweatshirt? And sunglasses? How about sunscreen?”

“It’s a good thing I have you around, because without you and my parents I couldn’t possibly fend for myself.”

Their mother appeared holding 2 large sandwiches which they stuffed into the cooler. “You’ll have to stop somewhere for supper. Let me give you some money.”

“No,” said Ben. “We can finance the meals and gas. We’re so happy you’re letting us go!” Jess looked at him, like, “Why are you refusing money?” but said nothing.

They collected a couple of beach towels and a blanket, piled into the car, and headed for the airport. The Hilo airport is small and rarely busy. Twenty minutes later they had dropped off their parents at the Avis booth and were on their way. It was still morning, barely 10am. Their biological clocks were still set on Eastern time and they had been getting up at 6am, which was about 11am back East, which meant they were sleeping in. The whole day was ahead of them.

The rain had started up again, pounding the windshield steadily as they headed west out of Hilo. Ben drove cautiously, fan on full defrost, windshield wipers pushing a river of water side to side with each pass. Jess leaned her seat back, closed her eyes, and drifted off to sleep, lulled by the rhythm of the wipers and the patter of the rain.

When she awoke the rain had slowed and the landscape on either side was shrouded in fog. There were no houses to be seen. They were on a two lane highway with wide shoulders. “Where are we?” she asked.

“On the saddle road headed west toward Kona,” said Ben. “The saddle is the pass between the two big mountains, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. We’re still going up. Once we cross the saddle it’s downhill toward Kona.”

“And the sky will clear up? It doesn’t look promising.”

“Should kaçak iddaa clear up. I hope so.”

“Do we have music? How’s the radio?”

“There really isn’t any reception up here,” said Ben. “I tried.”

Jess tried peering out the window but there was little to see. “You mean there are two huge mountains, one to either side and we can’t see either one?”

“Yep.”

“Maybe no one ever sees them. They just exist in the imagination, like everything else on this trip so far.”

Ben laughed. She looked at him. It was amazing to her how he put up with her taunting, almost never letting on that he was annoyed with her no matter how much she baited him. He seemed unflappable, kind, wise beyond his years. She felt foolish and selfish for not appreciating him.

“Thank you for driving,” she said. “And thank you for putting up with my eternal bitchiness.”

“I try not to take it personally.”

“You have way more restraint than I do. It’s funny. I’m so proud of you. I tell all my friends what a smart, athletic, handsome, kind brother I have. And then I come home and treat you like shit.”

“You are a bit grumpy sometimes.”

“Grumpy! I’m and out and out bitch to you. And to mom and dad. I have no idea what they think of me but they must think I’m evil and ungrateful.”

“I think it makes them sad.”

“Thing is, I have no idea why I do it, why I’m like that. I couldn’t imagine having better parents, really. I love them. I need to apologize and tell them so.”

“Jess, it’s biological, don’t you think? We’re programmed to act nasty to our parents and sibs so that we can separate and go out into the world and mate with others. If we let our familial love dominate we’d all be a bunch of dependent inbred monsters and idiots.”

“Incest you mean.”

“Incest. Emotional dependence. Financial dependence.”

“You mean the reason I’m mean and nasty to you and call you “Nerd” and “Dork” all the time is because I’m just following some genetic program that keeps me from being attracted to you and from wanting to fuck you? That’s nutty, Ben.”

“I don’t mean it necessarily in this particular instance. I mean overall, as a species.”

“Well, now you’re trying to wiggle out of it! How about you? Do you have a secret desire to fuck me?”

Ben reddened. “Like I said, not in this particular instance.”

“You perv! And all the while I thought the fact that you were so nice to me was just because you were so nice!” Jess laughed and squeezed his leg. “You incestuous Dork!” Ben laughed with her.

“I do see your point, though,” said Jess. “There has to be some mechanism whereby children leave the nest. But, clearly not in this particular instance.”

“Clearly.”

Jess leaned back in her seat. She hadn’t thought about it that way. Was her nastiness really a reaction to a subconscious desire to have sex with her brother? If he weren’t her brother, would she want to have sex with him? She was horny, certainly, desperately horny. Wasn’t that enough by itself to make her nasty?

She looked at him. No, she had to admit that he wasn’t the same annoying little brother that she had always known, had always dismissed and put down. He was tall and strong and had the kind of calm, quiet voice that made her stop in her tracks, if she had listened. Objectively, he was an amazing specimen. Maybe there was more to what he said than she had admitted to herself.

She shook her head. Better not think about that, she thought.

“So, not to change the subject or anything, but what’s up with school in the fall?” she asked.

“I’ve been accepted to both Columbia and SUNY Binghamton. Not sure mom and dad can afford Columbia so I’ll probably go to Binghamton.”

“Can’t you get an athletic scholarship to Columbia? You’re so good at baseball.”

“It’s an Ivy. They don’t have athletic scholarships. I talked to a financial aid person and told him I really wanted to go to Columbia. He said he’d see what they could do, but couldn’t promise anything. So I’m just waiting.”

Jess looked thoughtful and sad. “You should go to Columbia and I should go to Binghamton,” she said. “My expensive education is wasted on me.”

“Jess, how can you say that? You’re a straight A student. You’re about the smartest person I know.”

“Yeah, but I don’t know what I want to do and you do. I can’t even decide on a major, and I’m about to start my junior year. I’m supposed to pick a major but I haven’t a clue. I guess I’ll just pick something and wind up being just another hyper-educated waitress with a phi beta kappa key and an expensive degree. And anyway I really need to get out of Vassar.”

“What’s wrong with Vassar?”

“Let me count the ways. First of all, though, I’m getting a great education. I love my professors. I love the courses, it’s just, socially…socially horrible. For me, anyway. It’s coed, but it doesn’t seem like it. The guys who go there either think they’re god’s gift to women or are so shy and nerdy that they seem to melt into a wall if you kaçak bahis look at them. And there are all these lesbian cliques that pressure you to be one of them.”

“I didn’t know you were so unhappy. I’m sure mom and dad don’t know.”

“Mom knows a little. But I try to hide it. It was my choice and they’re paying, so I can’t really complain, but I’m complaining. To you. So please don’t say anything. Please.”

“I won’t. But maybe you need to give it more of a chance. You were with Toby the whole first year. So it’s only been one year.”

“I suppose. But I don’t want to. If I’m going to transfer now’s the time to do it, between sophomore and junior year.”

“Where would you go?”

“SUNY Binghamton.” She smiled. “I’ve looked at it, remember. It’s a really good school. Or U Buffalo. Another good school.”

“Jess, I’m not going to have you change your education so I can go to Columbia. Period. End of story.”

“Ben, I’m trying to tell you that’s not the reason. I had 5 dates this past year and got laid twice. Twice. And only because I seduced a married professor. That’s not supposed to happen but it did. He’s a wonderful guy but he loves his wife and his kids. Oh, and there the time I had sex with my roommate. Can’t forget that. I woke up one night and somehow we were in bed together and one thing led to another. But I told her we couldn’t be roommates and lovers both and I liked her as a roommate, so we never did that again.”

“Uh, how was that? With a woman?”

“Well it was different. Certainly different from Toby. It was slower and more gentle and she knew all the right spots. With Toby it was bang-bang, I’m done, now let’s go to sleep. Oh, you didn’t come, well maybe next time.”

“Toby is a selfish ass.”

“I know. Wish I’d figured it out sooner.”

They lapsed into silence. She wondered why she had blurted this out to her brother. It was way more than he needed to know, certainly, if her only motivation was to convince him that she was unhappy with her choice of colleges. It must be my horniness, she thought. I need to keep a lid on it somehow.

She sighed and glanced over at Ben. He was staring straight at the road, lost in his own thoughts. He’s too discrete to ever say anything, she thought. She wondered what motivated him, what was beneath his calm exterior. Could it really be all about baseball and books with him? He’s had girlfriends, certainly. That girl he was dating for a year. What went on between them?

They were now headed downhill and the rain seemed to be thinning. There were no houses along the road, nothing but endless miles of low lava-colonizing shrubs. The land rose on either side of the road, fading into a thick mist. She thought she just maybe she detected a patch of clearing sky in the distance.

“That’s a lot of info, isn’t it Bro. Sorry I laid that on you. In addition to my eternal bitchiness, which is because I’m so horny, if you must know.”

Ben smiled. “You’re an interesting person, Jess. I don’t mind. I love you. You’re amazingly smart and beautiful.”

“Thanks, my sweet Dork.” Jess leaned across the middle console and kissed his cheek. “I wish you weren’t my brother today. I wish you were my date.”

“If I were your date, you never would have told me those things.”

“You’re right, I’d be afraid I’d scare you away.”

Ben glanced quickly at her. Jess was looking vacantly off into the distance, her expression sad and wistful. She took his upper arm and leaned her head against him. Her smell seemed like an intense aphrodisiac; he inhaled deeply. He felt his penis beginning to stir. He knew he was attracted to his sister, had known that for years, although before Jess went to college their age difference was too great for the attraction to matter; when she was away, he could easily suppress the fantasies he had of her, but now? Sitting beside him, holding his arm, was the most beautiful and desirable woman he had ever known, who happened, unfortunately, to be his sister. His penis stiffened and he squirmed in his seat, trying to adjust it in his pants without attracting her attention.

Jess noticed his discomfort and smiled. “Sorry, Bro. Don’t mean to distract you from your driving.” She let go of his arm and moved away.

I guess you’re not the only one who’s horny, he thought. They needed a distraction from this conversation. He ought to be telling her fun facts about natural history, but his mind was suddenly blank, so he let it wander and stared at the road instead. Why did she tell him all that? Was it just another way of trying to get to him, like calling him “Nerd” and “Dork”? If so, it seemed to be working.

The distraction came abruptly. Within the matter of a minutes the skies cleared and the road dried. They looked over a ridge and saw the blue Pacific Ocean stretching off to infinity.

“Hawaii at last!” shouted Jess. “We’re here! It’s beach time!”

Ben raised his palm to her and she slapped it. He smiled. “We need to figure out which beach to go to,” he said. “Search ‘beaches near Kona’ and pick something.”

The road dropped precipitously. Broad dry pastures stretched away on either side of the road. The grass was brown, desiccated. Herds of cattle dotted the hillsides. Jess studied her phone.

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