CURIOSITY: John had always been curious, but he didn't much like going into the ocean. When his parents would drag him and his sister Kate off on a family trip to the beach he would usually pout for the whole drive there, and only relent when his dad finally pulled the station wagon off to the side of the road. John would then peek his head up over the edge of the door (he was too short to see out the window without stretching) and forget all about the misery that he had feared lied before him.
His parents knew this, as did Kate, and so they were not surprised this particular time when they saw John bound out of the car and down the concrete stairs to the sand as soon as the car stopped. John's mom saw that the beach was deserted, and so she didn't see any harm in letting him run free while the rest of the family unloaded the beach supplies from the car. Dad got the ice chest, mom carried the umbrella and the towels, and Kate brought up the rear with a pile of folding chairs stacked on top of her head.
It took the three of them a little while to get organized, and John was impatient. When he reached the sand he looked back up towards his family and sighed mightily; what in the world could be taking them so long? He kicked his shoes off and rubbed his feet through the sand, tracing long lines down the beach towards the water. He walked down onto the wet sand, but kept a close eye on the lapping waves to make sure that he didn't come within their reach.
John looked up and down the beach. There was a rock formation a short distance off, and he started making his way towards it, picking up as many shells as he could find while carefully avoiding the surf. When he reached the rocks he craned his neck upwards to take in the whole site. In awe of the towering spire, the shells he had collected fell numbly from his hands, forgotten for the moment. The rocks looked a little sharp, and John looked back up the beach towards where he had dropped his shoes. Too far away. Besides, he saw plenty of suitable places to step.
He approached the rocks gingerly at first, and climbed up the nearest using his hands to keep his balance. They weren't steep, and he grew more confident when he saw his family trudging down the slope from the road. His mom stooped to pick up his shoes when she passed them, and it made John laugh.
"Mom!" he yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth, "look at me! Mom!"
His mom turned to look, and waved the hand holding his shoes at him. John watched his family deposit their things a safe distance above the water line, and saw his parents say something to Kate and point over towards him. His big sister groaned and started walking to the rocks where he was standing. She was coming to get him, or at least to watch over him? this wouldn't do at all.
John laughed and started climbing higher. There were plenty of footholds and he didn't have any trouble until he approached the top. He looked down and saw Kate walking up after him; she looked grouchy, and that probably meant that she would take him back down. Kate used to be a lot of fun, but she hadn't wanted to play with him much at all recently, and had barely talked to him for months until school ended and summer began. If she thought she was going to carry him back down, he decided he would at least make her work for it.
John reached his hands up onto the top ridge of the highest rock, and stood on his tiptoes to see what was there. There weren't many places to step, but if he could find something to grab onto?. When his eyes poked above the ledge he saw that the peak was covered in roses.
"Kate! Look at this!" he yelled back down to his sister.
She sighed again. "What, John?" she called up to him.
"Roses!" he said, and grabbed one from over his head and held it out so she could see it. Kate looked curious, and hopped up the final few feet to stand up next to him. She was tall enough to see the roses without having to reach, and she surveyed the scene. "I want to see," John told her.
Kate grabbed him under his arms and lifted him up onto the ledge. Roses indeed, piles of them! John kicked at them lightly with his feet, and saw that under them all was a metal plaque. There were words written on it, but he couldn't read them. "What's this?" he asked his sister urgently.
"I can't see it," she said. "Come on, let's go." She was impatient, and wanted to go back down. She never wanted to play with him anymore.
"Read it, Kate," John begged her, curious to know what the plaque said and hoping to stay on the rocks for a few more minutes.
With another sigh Kate braced herself on the ledge with her hands and started to push herself up. John moved his feet out of the way and Kate gasped. The rock wasn't wet, but it was smooth and slippery and when Kate saw the plaque her arm lurched out from under her. John watched as she trembled on the brink and lost her balance; Kate screamed as she fell backwards off the step she had been standing on and turned end-over-end until she hit the rocks below with a solid thud.
John looked down for a few seconds and then started crying when he saw that Kate wasn't moving. His parents had heard Kate scream and fall, and ran across the beach towards the rocks; they found Kate's body lying crumpled below, lifeless. John's mom collapsed on the sand and cried, and his dad climbed up to bring him down. When he picked John up he saw the plaque underneath the roses, inscribed "In memory of our beloved Kate."