The off-brand may not offer sun protection
|“Shortcake,” I tell my younger sister, “my blood pressure too high is no good. We have to take some time off, go to the beach, and relax.” I am only 20, but the doctor said I had prehypertension when I went for my physical- even though the systolic was only 122. My sister Kate is too young to question it anyway. At 7, she goes, “Yeah, the beach!” before grabbing a blue unicorn towel, swimsuit and glittery visor to keep out the Summer sun. I fill a large water bottle and find the after sun cream in the bathroom cabinet, but the face-friendly sunscreen I love is nearly squeezed bare - sadly, we are about out of Bamboo Essence.
We stop at the store for more, but all the best brands are taken. I help Kate put on the last of the good Bamboo stuff before taking a sniff at the mystery brand I bought. The bottle says UFO-50; I figure they must update the acronyms every few years. SPF must be last year’s fashion, or else I picked up the Canadian kind?
When I wake up, Kate is shaking my shoulder, asking me if I’ll show her the trick again where I walk on top of the wave. “Stop kidding me, shortcake,” I say, using her cutesy nickname. “I wasn’t kidding, s’mores,” she says back. “It was really weird and totally cool. Must have tired you out.”
We head out to the water and I splash half-heartedly in the waves as I see a small silver disc disappear into the clouds above. A memory strikes like a fever dream of a ‘50’s film: “Take me to your leader,” says a man from Mars.
“Must be a silver frisbee,” I tell Kate as she glances up. I strive to wash the greenish tinge from my skin discreetly while I try to figure out whether UFO-50 offers any degree of protection. At this rate, my blood pressure really will be high.