31. Places: Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?
This is a story about three separate places, that held three special moments for one girl. One was a beach. One was a mountain, and one was a forest.
This is the tale from the beach:
She always liked the beach. She had been to sandy ones, rocky ones, and had seen sunrises and sunsets on them. And it was the beach where she learned to keep swimming. Some people are scared of the ocean, and at one time she was too. She was seven, not yet a strong swimmer but strong enough by her father’s standards.
As she followed him out she kept getting pushed back by what seemed to be defiant waves. Over walls made of water she could hear her father call to her saying, “Swim to me! Swim to me!” She pushed a little farther for a little bit longer only to have her father swim further away. At the time it seemed cruel, to be left alone and passed around by waves so with the water stinging her eyes she let herself be pushed back to shore.
From her beach towel it seemed much safer. She watched the waves crash onto the shore and then retreat only to crash again. She watched seagulls search for deserted curly fries and funnel cakes, and watched as her father came in like a human bullet being fired from the water. “What are you doing out here?”
She said her eyes hurt, which wasn’t a lie but she felt like she would sound like a baby for revealing the whole truth. “You have to keep swimming!” She followed him to the very edge and dug her toes deep into the sand. She let the water run past her ankles and felt herself slip further down.
How long could she stand there before she disappeared entirely? She turned to face her towel. She wasn’t wrong in thinking it was safer there but she could either disappear or retreat. So instead she yanked free from the sand shackles that kept her in place, and chased her father into the water to keep swimming. She has never regretted her decision.