I walk beside the shoreline in the early evening, the sun on the verge of setting beneath the horizon. I feel the warmth of the sand and the refreshing wave’s coolness as it glides across my feet. I feel a sense of peace as I am walking on this beach with one of my good friends, Chloe. The beach has an unusual emptiness than what it is like in the afternoon. All of the lifeguards have left. We are on our own.
We search the sand for any pretty seashells, a common tradition we do on our daily summer evening strolls on the beach. We have collected dozens of fascinating seashells over the years. Most of them are broken or chipped; rarely do we have a perfect shell. But we only collect them if they have pretty colors or if they are chipped in a certain way.
“Ooh, look at this one, Reb.”
Chloe picks up a shell for me. I gently take it from her hand and examine it closely, feeling all of the seemingly perfect ridges on the pure beauty of this single broken shell. I hold it close to my heart and make a wish. I hand it back to Chloe and she does the same. Then we put it into our little shoebox for all of our shells that we have gathered.
“Let’s walk a little bit farther,” I say.
Chloe nods, and we are on our way farther down the shoreline.
Along the way we pick up a few more seashells, wishing on them, and moving on. Eventually, Chloe wants to do something else, something more than what we do every day.
“Hey, Rebecca, let’s go in the water,” she says, with a look I have never seen on her, a look of mischief. She grins widely and puts her hands on her hips.
“I don’t think we should, Chlo. Maybe another time when the lifeguards are around or at least when there are some people on the beach,” I say tentatively, wondering what is going on in her mind.
“No, we have to go now! I’ve never been in the water in the evening before, and I want to try it. Let’s go!” she says, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward the ocean.
I have nothing to do but follow behind her; once Chloe has her mind set, you might not want to go and try to change her mind. She is very firm with her decisions once she has made them.
Once we are in the water, Chloe let’s go of my arm and starts jumping in the water, hands in the air.
“Come on, Reb, dance with me!” she yells, splashing me with salty water in a playful way.
Oh, who cares, I think. One week left of summer, anyway. I might as well.
I start dancing along with her, splashing her as the waves crash against us, spinning through the water, falling on top of her as I lose my balance. We are as free as can be. So free, that I am starting to feel adventurous.
“Let’s see how far we can go out,” I say, splashing her with water once more.
“Okay, you first!” she says excitedly.
I dunk my head under the water and swim out, carefree. After a few seconds I pop my head out of the water, a few inches away from where I started.
“Oh yeah?” she asks, and dunks her head under the water. She pops her head up, about a foot away from me.
“Well, since you think you’re so good, watch this,” I say defiantly.
I take a huge breath and disappear under the water. I open my eyes, and all I see is a light green murkiness all around me. I instantly close my eyes back up again, and push myself farther until I cannot breathe anymore. Then, I still kick myself out. I kick and kick and kick. My lungs scream for air, but I ignore them.
Just a little bit farther, I tell myself.
Soon I start to feel dizzy. I am getting warmer, warmer, until I push myself out of the water and look around.
The first thing that pops into my head is,
Where am I?
I look around, searching for Chloe. Finally I see her, waving her arms. Whoa, I think, I went out this far?
It looks like I went out 100 feet!
I try swimming back in, but it seems like I don’t have the strength. I walk across the water, but I lose my balance and I go back under. I come back above the water and I realize I am being pulled backwards out into the ocean. I start to panic.
“Help!” I scream.
Chloe scrambles farther into the water, trying to get me.
“No, stay back! You’ll drown with me!” I scream at her, waving at her to go back.
She gets out of the water and looks like she just saw a ghost.
She starts waving her hands at me and points her fingers at me.
“What? What is it?!” I yell, confused.
I start to feel strange, and I’m cold all over. I also feel a strong pull from behind me.
All of a sudden I have a queasy feeling in my stomach and I don’t want to look behind me. But since I am already drowning, and since my curiosity is getting the better of me, I think, What the heck, it can’t get much worse, right?
I turn around and I see this horrible monster coming for me, sucking in the surrounding water, trying to get me.
I scream the loudest I have ever heard myself scream ever before.
“Help! Help! Chloe, please!” I shriek, trembling terribly all over.
She starts searching frantically in nearby lifeguard stands for who knows what.
She searches one, then two, then goes onto another one.
“Chloe, hello! Giant monster over here! Help!” I scream, trying to get her attention again.
She finally comes out of the stand holding a life-preserver.
She throws it out to me. I try to grab it, but the pulling becomes stronger. I hear a scream as my head goes under the water.
I try pulling myself out of the water, but I get a mouthful of water for my efforts instead. I choke underwater, then suck in more salt water.
I use all of my strength and tug myself up and out of the water just in time to take a deep breath. I go back under and realize that I am coming closer and closer to this monster’s mouth, about to be shred to pieces.
I sigh, and realize that I will not win this fight. I am too weak to even swim just a few feet farther away from the sea monster. I go limp, and let the monster suck me closer and closer to its razor-sharp teeth.
I brace myself for the pain, and just as I get sucked into its mouth…
I feel I deep strength inside of me, just one ounce of strength that tells me “don’t give up.” And suddenly, I feel a strong wave of anger jump inside me.
I punch this monster on its face and it gets angry at me, sucking me stronger to get its meal. But I won’t let it.
I swim up to the surface of the water and swim out to the life-preserver. The monster starts swimming towards me at an amazing speed. I frantically grab on to it and Chloe starts pulling me in.
The monster snaps at my legs. I start kicking at it and it snaps me on my foot. Pain shoots up my leg and I realize he bit my right foot.
I look back and as Chloe is pulling me in there is a trail of blood is following me from my foot. The blood makes the monster go faster, wanting its meal.
“Hurry Chloe! He’s catching up!” I yell.
She pulls with all her might, and finally, finally, I am back on the sand. Oh, the warm, beautiful sand.
The monster gives one final defeated growl and swims away.
I look at Chloe and she looks at me. We jump at each other and hug. I squeeze her as hard as I can. We are both crying so hard that I feel I might bust a gut.
“Oh, Rebecca, I was so scared. As soon as I saw you go out that far I knew something bad was going to happen. I just knew. I am so sorry,” she says, hugging me even harder.
“I know. It’s okay. We’re all right now,” I respond, letting go.
I see her tear-stained face and I start crying harder.
“I can see you hurt yourself. Let’s go home and get you fixed up; go to the hospital maybe. They’ll make you feel better,” she says, reassuring me.
We walk home in silence, our arms wrapped around each other.
* * *
Post from prompt at Plinky.