Errata Literary Magazine
Bucks County Writers Workshop
Drowning by Sylvia Honig
Here I am, quaking in my beach clogs, heart beating overly fast, breaking into a cold sweat, on a hot day yet!
"Edie, are you okay?" asks my sister Fran. "What's wrong with you? This is supposed to be fun, isn't it?"
Why am I so petrified? Why does the beach and ocean look so different, and why is the walk from the condo to the water's edge longer than it used to be a few month's ago. Everything seems to have changed. The color of the sand is no longer a pretty powdery white shade, but is course and brownish; ugh how ugly!
"Fran, what is going on, is this a dream? Did something happen to this beautiful paradise these few months I was up north?"
"I'm telling you that it is not a dream, but a real nightmare That is not the only thing. There's more. Wait 'til you hear this. The Corps of Engineers made some stupid mistakes in this part of Florida by taking sand from the coral reefs and dumping this course stuff that's been under water for years onto the beaches to combat erosion. I've been here throughout the whole project."
It was no surprise that there was not a soul on the beach, nor in the water. A huge steeply slanted dune had been formed towards the water's edge. The huge waves pounded onto the incline and rippling currents could be seen by the naked eye.
"Fran, you know I'm a strong swimmer. I'm dying to go in. What should I do?"
Warning me, she said, "Listen, I know you've always loved ocean swimming and have been a terrific swimmer since you were a little kid, even being a lifeguard, but watch yourself."
I take the plunge. Not only is the water suddenly about ten feet deep as you go in, but a trough has now formed since the beach project was done. This is where the small fish are eaten by large sea creatures, particularly sharks and stingrays. I'm reminded of Fran's warning; that it is not easy getting out of that trench. I had instant panic. Why did I go in? I'm no kid. I take a deep breath and swim out towards a sand bar. I'm out of that frightening space, thank God. At first it feels velvety, looks beautiful, a gorgeous turquoise color, but wait, here comes a huge wave! Now I want to come into shore. I am now worried about the sea life lurking in the trench as I try to get there. The rip tide begins to pull me out to sea. As an experienced swimmer, I know what to do. Go along with it until I get a wave to take me in. I seem to be doing that. I see Fran running back and forth on the beach watching every stroke. I've now reached the dreaded trough, and now all I have to do is somehow get out, on to the beach.
My heart is now pounding like crazy. Either I will drop dead of a heart attack, get pulled under by a wave and drown or be eaten by a shark. The water swirls, spins my upper body onto the ledge of gravely sand. I could come up with only half my legs. I've made it! As I gasp, sputtering salty water on to my chin, that terrible coarse sand covering my face and body,
I tell my sister, "It doesn't look like I will be swimming in the ocean for a long time."
A few days later, I hear that a man was bitten by a shark at that very same beach, thirty stitches in his leg -- lucky to be alive.
That did it!