The sand is a soothing yellow, the sun a perfect blend of light and heat. The sea is crystal blue and goes on as far as the eye can see. Behind me a soothing mellow jazz tune is playing it sounds like something by Charlie Haden. I’m lying leisurely on a white foldable plastic bed and relax.
“Should we get something to eat?” asks my beautiful wife.
She is at my side lying just as I am enjoying herself. We hold hands, life is perfect.
“Sure, what do you feel like?” I ask
“How about a large green salad and champagne?” she asks smiling.
“I think I prefer a sandwich and champagne if you don’t mind”
“I knew you’d say that”
I signal for the waiter to come and ask for an omelet sandwich for my self, a green salad for the lady and a bottle of champagne. Shortly after the waiter sets up two tables on either side of us and places on the one the green salad and the omelet sandwich on the other, the champagne he puts on a small stand in front of the two foldable beds. He fills two glasses and leaves them there for us. We casually sip from the champagne and enjoy our day out. The sound of the oceans waves is incredibly soothing and we quickly lose ourselves in the sound and are swept away following the currents of the sea.
A noise stirs me up; I look across the vast water to the horizon where the blue sea blends with the clear blue sky so completely that one cannot see where the one ends and the other begins. Across the waves I notice something moving, but it is blurry and quickly disappears again behind the waves. I focus on the place where I first saw the movement trying to discern if it is real and not just a figment of my imagination. It is then that I see the movement once more it resembles and arm flailing about, waving for help. It is then that I realize that the noise that had awoken me was actually a cry for help from the person drowning. I look around me at the beach around me and realize to my surprise that it is deserted and that there is no one other than me that can jump into the water. The person is far from me and I do not know if I can save him, but I must try. Without a second thought I jump into the water, it is surprisingly cold. I pay no heed to it and swim as fast as I can forward, gulping for breathe and push myself as far as my body will take it.
The ocean surrounds me, and I can see nothing but the dark blue salty water. I struggle to swim against the current that threatens to take me under and in my struggles against the waves that are now significantly larger I swallow large amounts of salt water. I fight to hold on, pushing my neck high above the water to suck in the precious air. I push on, further and further into the deep sea, not knowing if the person is still somewhere out there, or if I am too late.
I stop to look around me, trying to see where the person is, as I must now be closer to him. However, I can see nothing around me but the high waves, the noise of them crashing down drowns out any possible scream from the person. I become desperate and look all around me for any sign of movement. Something catches my eye from the right and I quickly swim towards it. As I get closer and closer I realize I can hear someone shouting, a voice that sounds familiar somehow, a voice I recognize from somewhere. I put it out of my thoughts and put all my strength in swimming onwards. My lungs burn with the need for air and my arms and legs feel heavy, I pray I will be on time.
My lungs are screaming for more air and I can feel my body succumb to the currents and the sea. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep my head above the water. Just as I lose hope to find however it is that is out there; I hear a voice close to me. This rejuvenates me filling me with energy once more and I swim towards the sound. A hand is flailing in front of me and sinking down rapidly, I dive down and manage to grab it. I lift the body up and out of the water, and look at the face. I do not know how it is possible but it is my father. He has lost consciousness but his pulse is strong. I open his mouth and blow air in. I do so again and again, hoping to get him to breathe to spit out the water in his lungs. I start to cry and keep on breathing into his mouth. I scream for him to wake up, to do something but it is useless he is gone. I struggle to hold on to him but his body is heavy and I am too tired. Too tired to hold on, my hands are weak and he is slipping from me, the sea becomes rougher, the waves stronger pushing me under, I scream as my father’s body slips into the deep ocean and the waves flow over me entering my throat preventing me from breathing. I kick with my legs but I have no strength left to keep my head above the water and I start to sink, the sea closing over me as I descend into darkness…
He turns in his sleep; his eyes momentarily open and glisten in the moon light, as though something causes them to reflect the shattered light that reaches them. His irregular breathing however quickly returns to normal and he is once more deep asleep.
Notes: Images of night… 4 – the beach (2009)
I grew up next to the sea and was diving and swimming even before I could walk properly. My dad, who is an avid diver in his own right, told me after reading the story that it was the only way he would ever want to die. Not because it is a painless death or anything like that but because he feels such a connection with the sea, that he would always like to be a part of it. Even in death.