Lisa Lipkind Leibow and Sukia

Sukia Sikorski

Twin Souls Tempera

Inspiration piece

The Instant

By Lisa Lipkind Leibow


The morning after sixth grade graduation, I struggled to stretch closed a blouse that buttoned fine the week before. Crap! I growled in the mirror at newly sprouted breasts and grabbed a hooded sweatshirt. That’s the instant the twinkling confetti-like excitement surrounding the first day of camp transformed to a giant squid the color of fire-roasted red peppers – the slimy ones my mother insisted were delicious.

Before I knew it, I stood in the Sea Stars Cabin, eyeing the springs supporting the top bunk mattress. If I lay on my stomach – the way I like to sleep, any camper who took the bottom bed, could rest on her back, stare up, and giggle at the mounded impressions. No wonder the camp chose coral reef-themed bunk-names, because I was drowning in the ocean. Suffocating, my lungs felt the color of a blue-ringed octopus as I spread my sleeping bag onto the bottom bunk. The risk of slumbering beneath a bed wetter trumped the humiliation of having strangers discover there was a woman bursting from my little-girl frame.

Before I heard anything, a shadow blocked the window, chilling my sun-warmed cheek. I hugged a pillow to my chest, guarding against the clatter of my bunkmates, who piled in with duffels filled with flashlights, beach towels, and bathing suits – bathing suits! Blue and gasping, I scooted into the corner, bleeding tears. Hoping to find a tissue, I clawed at my open bag finding only a Ziploc filled with toothpaste, insect repellent, and 3-in-1 shampoo-soap-conditioner.  Clutching lanky arms around legs stuffed under a baggy t-shirt, I disappeared like the octopus, warding against enemies.

That’s the instant she bounded in, grabbed a bikini from her cubby, and sat on the bottom bunk next to me – completely disregarding my camouflage. “There you are!”

“Me?” I sniffled. When snot bubbled on my upper lip, I swiped my nose, cringing at the trail along my sleeve.

Whipping off her t-shirt, she stood right in front of me, tying bikini-top neck-strings and cupping Lycra triangles over nectarine-sized breasts. Turning her back to me, she held the bottom outside corners between fingers and thumbs. “Tie this.”

“Okay.” I stared down, realizing my crab apple-sized protrusions weren’t monsters needing to hide in the shadows. Before looping the strings across her back, I drew my shoulder blades together and sucked in my stomach.

Bikini top secured, she placed her hands on my shoulders and turned me toward the cubbies. “Hurry! Get your suit. First day of camp cannon ball-fest awaits us.”

That’s the instant I found my best friend. I pulled on my one-piece, without caring that it showed off my curves and ran with her to the pond. Octopus tentacles transformed to tinsel in the air as we broke free. We took to the sky like twin souls, hugging our knees. We landed – splash-splash.


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