North Carolina Shores, 1991
The light of the moon created a path on the water as the waves crashed against the sand. It was perhaps the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her young life. Granted, her life had been pretty short up until this point as she was only a tender seven years old. Sneaking a look back at the house where her parents were currently drinking concoctions from the cabinet she wasn’t allowed to touch and screaming at each other over some perceived slight, she stepped further on to the beach.
She wasn’t supposed to be here, this close to the ocean without adult supervision. Apparently the ocean held a power that scared her mother, and gave her father a kind of caution she rarely saw from him. She had been partially amazed because it’s the first time in what seemed like forever they had actually agreed on something. Her mother had kept saying something about a hurricane off-shore and how it was making the waves and the rip current stronger and she hadn’t even let her go in the water earlier in the day. She had been forced to make sandcastles with her little brother at her mother’s feet while her dad watched golf from inside the house.
That’s why she had snuck out of the house when they weren’t paying attention. She had to see what this “rip current” was. She had to know what this thing was that had both of her parents scared. Taking her pajamas off revealed a neon pink one piece bathing suit with miniature sparkles that reflected the light bouncing off the water. Standing in front of the pathway that the moon created she started walking into the water.
It was surprisingly cold considering the heat of the day earlier and her body involuntarily shivered as wave after wave lapped at her feet. The sand beneath her tiny heels gave way each time a wave went back out to see and she found herself a little unsteady by the power. For a second, she stopped to consider her mission; if the waves were this strong when she was only ankle deep – maybe her mother and her father had been right.
Ignoring the tiny voice in the back of her, she continued walking slowly, but steadily along the unending walkway the moon created for her. First knee deep, than waist deep, and finally, a wave crashed over her head and she was totally submerged. Her body twisted and contorted under the strength of the waves and she thought that she must look like one of those performers she had seen at the circus with the ribbons earlier that year.
Pulling towards the surface, sputtering out the salt water that had invaded her nose and mouth, she looked back at the house she had come from. It seemed so much farther away than it had been last time she looked and it was getting smaller. Her little feet tried to touch the sand that must have been somewhere beneath her but she couldn’t feel it. This must be what her parents had been afraid of – the ocean pulling her away from them.
Taking a deep breath, she floated her entire body to the surface of the water and looked at the stars above her. She could see them all here, unlike at home. She supposed she should probably be scared by the whole ordeal, after all she had only been in swimming lessons for half the summer. If the ocean wanted to take her away in it’s rip current there was nothing she could do to stop it.
A smile came across her face as she found the north star from the little dipper. Let the ocean take her away. There was nothing in that house for her anyway – and floating across the ocean seemed like a grand adventure.