Change for the Better

Julie E. Miller



I didn't dare blink as my eyes took in the sun, which had just begun to rise. This was my time of day. It belonged to me. This was where I thought.

The waves below me rocked the small vessel I was on. My father owned this boat and the oceanography business that went along with it. Long gone were the days where my mother taught school and my father had a desk job. Long gone were Dan and my normal high school lives and our friends of the past.

Two years we'd lived on that boat and in another two, I was sure I might still be there. Not that it's a bad thing. Our ship is like a houseboat and I get to learn in various European and American ports that only few ever even dream of visiting, let alone learn in.

Dan, my older brother who was older than me by a year and half, walked on deck and sat beside me. A long time passed before anything was said and it was those moments where we were the closest. We may have not communicated verbally, but I knew him well enough to know what he was thinking, how he ticked.

"It's beautiful," I whispered at last.

It is now summer, my parents favorite season and also the most dangerous on the ocean. No more lessons for three whole months. That meant more time to explore. At sixteen, I found myself doing quite a bit of that. Hurricanes and monsoons were the last thing from my mind. We were harbored in a port outside of North Carolina, waiting for dad to do some paperwork.

"It is, Summer," Dan whispered, as I pulled my knees up to my chest and hugged them.


Dan never called me by my real name. Maybe Lee, my middle name, but never Summer.

"Dan," I began.

"Shhhhh…just watch it," he instructed.

"I let my eyes graze out towards the ocean. The last few stars were falling from the sky, as the moon had begun to hide behind the clouds. I heard birds chirp and commotion. I stood up finally.

"I'm going back to bed," I said, then left the deck.


"Wake up," my mother said, shaking me from my slumber. "Summer, it's almost ten-thirty!"

"I'm up," I grumbled.

She left my room and I rolled over in my small bed. Dan had the larger room of the two of us. He, at least, had enough living space for two people. My room was small, but it was fine. I grabbed my journal, which was on the table right beside my bed, and began to write.


Summer's Journal

Entry #458

June 7

10:37 A.M.

Weather- Sunny, blue sky. 78º. Slight sea breeze.

Woke up early to see the sun rise. Not the prettiest, like it is when we're out in the middle of the ocean, but it was still beautiful.

Mom is taking me inland while Dad works today. We're renting a car (God help us! Can mom even drive? It's been months since we've stayed this long on solid land I'm surprised she can even ride a bike, let alone drive a car!) so that we can go to a mall and then hit some sea side shops. I think we may go to the post office so I can check to see if I've gotten anything in two weeks. We'll see. The only mail I've had have been magazines and an occasional letter from Lily, who is probably my best friend from my old home in Maine.

Dan is going to work with Dad. I heard them whispering late last night while I was "sleeping" (Okay…so I was listening to a CD that Lily burnt for me and sent in a package…that's the only way I can really keep up with modern music, unless I download it since we have some really expensive Internet and phone line connection…). Something important is going to happen. So why won't anyone tell me what it is?



I lay the book back where it was. I rolled out of the bed and walked two steps to my dresser. I picked out my clothes and headed out of the room. I needed a shower. I plodded down the narrow hall and into the bathroom…if you would even consider it one. It has the smallest shower stall and no vanity. The toilet was a foot away from the shower. I made due with it and got ready.

An hour later, my mom and I left our home on the sea. We got into the small rental car. It was warm and stuffy from the June heat. We headed towards what I assumed must be the mall and I looked at the landscape. The ocean was my home, but it was good to be on solid land again.

"Mom," I began. I hadn't talked to her all morning.

"Yes, Summer?" she asked me.

"Don't you miss people from Maine?"

"Well yes Summer. Why?"

"Because I love you all and everything, but it's a bit odd for a sixteen year old girl to only have one friend who she talks to occasionally, don't you think?"

"You can go live with your grandparents in Maine if you want to. It isn't in our intentions to keep you onboard if you don't want to be there."

"That's not it Mom. I love the ocean," I told her, as my fingers fidgeted with my seat belt. "It just gets awful hard."

"Because there's no one your age to talk about what you're going through, right?"

"Exactly. I'm just scared that when we do end our little voyage that I won't have any communication skills."

"You won't lose them," she told me. "You've always had great communication skills."

"Mom," I began again.


"Can Lily come stay with us for awhile this summer?"

She heaved a heavy sigh. "Normally I would agree, Summer. You know I would. But this summer it just won't work."

"Why?" I asked, as calmly as I could.

"Because. Your father has his reasons. Ask him later."

I groaned as we pulled up to the mall. I smiled. The whole thing was made from what seemed to be driftwood and glass. My problem forgotten, we entered the mall to get the clothes I'd be wearing for awhile.


We got to the post office fifteen minutes before it closed. I mailed out my letter and my mother paid some bills and we got our mail. My brother had all these music magazines and I had a few too. He had letters from girls that missed him and a guy friend or two. Mom had some stuff from grandpa and grandma and dad had work letters and bills. I had received a package, from Lily I was guessing, and another letter. The other letter made me wonder, but I wouldn't open it till I got back to the deck of our ship.

My mother and I left the post office, hoping that my father would be back when we got on board. No such luck. By the time we had our stuff unloaded (which included the many, MANY groceries we had picked up on the way home) and the rental car returned, there was still no sign of him. So I took my favorite deck chair and sat down to read my letters. I first opened the package. It was from Lily, like I'd guessed. It was full too. It had pictures, two CDs, a present, a phone card (which I would use that night), and


June 3


Hey! How is life on the high seas? I hope this finds you. I know it's a larger package than I usually send, but I couldn't help it. I really miss you! I mean, it's odd that I haven't seen my best friend in an entire year, but for some reason, it seems like I saw you yesterday. E-mail me more…will you? I really need your help sometimes…

Let's see…what's new in Lily-Land. Remember Brett Rihmheld? Well guess who he asked out? ME! Can you believe it? Oh jeez Summer! I've liked him for FOUR YEARS and he finally asked me out! I'm sure you'll be pleased! I am still giddy and it's been three whole weeks!

Everyone always asks how you are. Steve always used to ask about you. He moved to North Carolina last year. Everyone misses him too, but he never kept in touch. Like a typical guy. ANYWAYS…

Alright, here's the order you go in with the items in this package this time:

-Pictures. They're from the past few weeks…with Brett and I and the fam, so on so forth. Read the backs of them to know what is going on.

-Burnt CD. The latest tunes…

-Burnt CD 2. It's a whole CD of this great band I just started listening to…you'll like it. I promise.

-Present. No. I know it's not your birthday. (By the way…I totally loved the toga from Greece! I didn't actually think you'd find one and BUY it! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!) It's just a best friends kinda present…

-Phone Card. If you got this, you must be harbored…so CALL ME! please!!!!!!

That's all for now. I have to go…



I grinned. Typical Lily…

I opened up the box to find a silver locket with a shooting star on it and the words "If you fall I will catch you," written on the back. It had a picture of the two of us in it from the last time we'd been together. I quickly latched it. I loved it.

My second letter was from my grandparents. It was just some money and a thinking of you letter. I'd have to e-mail them later. We were leaving port tomorrow.

My father arrived at that moment. I rushed forth and hugged him as he kissed my forehead. Dan was next and he was carrying some heavy baggage. I arched an eyebrow just in time to see a guy my brother's age following, carrying more stuff.

"Summer, this is Mr. Porter's son. He'll be staying with us for the year. Isn't that great?" my dad asked.

It was at that moment that I took my phone card and dashed for the nearest pay phone on land.