Turning into Tinker Bell

Brianna Randall essays

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Do you ever notice that when you hang out with your siblings you feel like a kid again? Even at 33, I usually feel about 8 when my sister, Cassidy, and I are together. Something about siblings brings out the best and worst in us. They allow us to play and shout and giggle and pout. Hell, they don't even give you a choice: old habits die hard.

Sometimes turning into a kid again with my sister is magical. Sometimes it means we both snap at each other like irritated adolescents. We're tight, as far as sisters go—we lived together for 6 years when I was single, and she lived next door when I moved in with my husband. Then I left for this big sailing adventure, which meant tearful goodbyes and the longest stint we've ever been apart. Ever.

Now she's here, visiting us in Tonga as we live on a sailboat in the South Pacific. Two nights into her month-long visit, I looked out of the cockpit after dinner.

“Whoa! Cass, come check out this bioluminescence! The ocean is glowing,” I called over my shoulder. The lure of the sparkly underwater critters on such a dark, crystal-clear night turned me into a kid again, mischevious and impetuous. “Let's jump in!”

“For sure,” she replied, already stripping off clothes to skinny dip in the glowing sea with me. Splash!

“Look!  I'm making a snow angel, but with plankton in the ocean,” she giggled. My sister looked surreal, swirling below the boat amidst flashing green lights. She was literally shooting stars from her fingertips and toes.

I jumped in beside her, gasping as the sparkly green-white lights encircled my legs and torso. “I feel like Tinker Bell,” I exclaimed.

We shrieked our excitement, our voices as high-pitched as school girls. We reveled in making our breasts glow in the dark, and in the feel of the jet-black water. We were as bright and shiny as the diamond-sharp stars overhead, and as light as the bubbles of plankton that tickled our tummies.

“Your butt is glowing,” Cass informed me, as she followed me up the ladder out of the sea. “Wait…my arm is still lighting up!  No way!  You can rub the water in your skin and it's all sparkly.” The residue of the ocean's fireflies made our moon-white skin glittery as we stood on the bow in the dark night. 

We rubbed our skin long after the underwater constellations faded from sight, hoping to absorb the magic of the luminous moment. I hope the glitter will settle close to my heart, where I will always remember feeling like Tinker Bell alongside my sea-angel sister.

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About the Author

Brianna Randall

Brianna Randall lives in Missoula, Montana where she toggles not-so-deftly between chasing her young son, running her own business, and fantasizing about sailing off to a deserted island (again). Her work has appeared in Scary Mommy, Outside, Backpacker, and several travel magazines.

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