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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Dangers of Swimming

By Johna Ferguson

“Gen, I hate them. I’m sure they’ll bite me, so let’s not swim until the tide comes in farther.”

I’m spending time at my friend’s beach place. There is a nice sandy beach but between it and the water, a luxuriant crop of seaweed grows profusely and in it hide many spider crabs. The water is just starting to cover the green mess, so I really can’t see what I am walking on, and yet I must walk on it to get out to where I can start swimming.

I plead, “Gen please let’s wait a little longer. The tide will soon be higher.”

“No, she answers, I’m too hot and want to cool off.”

I yell, “You go ahead, but I am not coming.”

We are best friends, but she is adamant and won’t change her mind. We have always been told that two must swim together, no one can go in alone, but I can see her so I don’t worry. Anyway the water is so shallow until high-tide, nothing can happen.

I slowly head up the beach to sit and wait, but it is so hot. When I see Gen frolicking in the water, I am envious and also mad at myself for being such a sissy. But I refuse to take the chance so instead I decide to walk along the empty beach.

Summer cabins dot the waterfront on the small bay. The beach is an interesting place to look for shells, so I amble along. Three houses away I see Susan, one of Gen’s friends, building a sand castle. Now that looked like fun, especially as the tide comes in. One can slowly watch it disintegrate in spite of one’s wild efforts to shore it up, so I squatted down by Susan to build my own.

“Where’s Gen?”

“She’s out in the water playing but it is only knee-deep.”

“Why aren’t you out there with her?”

I tell her, “I hate those awful spider crabs that hide under the weeds, so I want to wait until the tide is in a little farther.”

With that I hunkered down to create a wonderful castle with a big moat around it. As the tide comes in, first it will fill the moat before the entire thing crumbles away.

I got so engrossed in my labor at architecture that I completely forget about Gen. Finally, when I finished building my fabulous castle, I stood up to check on the water level. It had completely covered the seaweed and started to cover the sandy beach so I can go swimming. But when I looked out in the water for Gen, she wasn’t there.

I frantically dashed along the sand until I was in front of her cabin, but she wasn’t there on the beach, although her towel was still on the log. I ran down to the water’s edge, but I didn’t know what to do. Should I go out in the water and try to find her, or should I go up to her house above the beach and see if she is there or go get some help. I was crazy.

I yelled, “Gen, where are you? Are you playing a trick on me and hiding? Please come out.” I thought of all the terrible things that might have happened; a huge crab pulling her down beneath the water, or maybe she got a cramp and couldn’t swim to hold herself up.

I jump from one foot to the other in such a quandary. Then I thought of her mother, and all her warnings about swimming in pairs, and how I completely ignored that warning and now, here it is too late.

I turned and headed up the beach to find help, but I turned once more for a last look, and there she was, standing in the water, laughing at me. Oh, I wanted to kill her at that moment for she had me so scared and worried.

I dashed out in the water forgetting all about the crabs. She yelled, “Watch it, a big one will bite you if you are not careful.” At that point I could care less; I just wanted to know what happened, how did she trick me.

“What are you doing scaring me so, I demand an answer now.”

She blithely replied, “Oh, it was easy. I saw you were so busy with Susan, having more fun than with me, so I decided to put one over on you. I had found a drinking straw in the water.

“Remember all those movies about WWII? Well to hide from the Japanese, the soldiers jumped into the river and stayed below the water, but they really were breathing through the hollow grass stems that grew nearby. I thought, I’d try it and I found that actually you can stay down as long as you want and it really doesn’t bother your body.

“I knew eventually you’d finish your building and see the water was coming in and come looking for me. I just stayed down until you’d yelled yourself out and were heading up to the house. I guess you were going to tell my mom the sad news that I’d drowned.”

With a silly smirk covering her face she said, “Aren’t you afraid of crabs anymore? There must be hundreds out here under our feet.”

With that I dashed out of the water, but I decided then and there, one good joke deserves another and I knew just what it would be. But that’s another story.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Johna - Nicely written!

You kept me in suspence right up until the moment that Gen resurfaced.

But I can't stand endings that keep me in suspence, like, "But that's another story."! - Sandy

That reminds me of being on the beach years ago, not wanting to walk into the seaweed. Another girl was heading in.
"What if you step on a crab?" I asked her.
"I get bit" she answered and kept wading.

You know how to keep us guessing. Great story. Thanks.

Oh, Johna, I know exactly how you felt when you couldn't find your friend.

I was babysitting my Grandson one time and took him into a large Department Store. He was about 4 years old.

I took my eyes off of him for a second or two and he was gone! I called him name and ran around the store but there was no sign of him. I rushed to the front of the store and asked that the doors be locked so no one could get out with him.

After a frantic search of about 5 minutes (It seemed an eternity) he came out from under the rack of dresses where he had been hiding to tease me.

What a relief! You have very mixed emotions at that moment. You are so happy they are all right but you are angry that they have done a disappearing act on you just for fun..

Your story was so well written and descriptive that I was right there on that beach with you and felt the same relief you did when I found out your friend was fine!

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