I Once Almost Drowned

By deeasherself

Five summers ago we went to the beach and invited my cousin to go with us. We rented an apartment for two weeks and lived there and cooked and did everything families do in summer time. In the last week we decided to drive to another beach an hour away from where we were. We prepared snacks and left as soon as we were ready, around noon. Once we got to the beach, we got very happy because it looked empty. Although it was a saturday and the sun was high up and it looked like the kind of summer days anyone would want to spend at the beach, there was nobody. We went to the seaside and threw sea water at each other and played games and built sand castles and tunnels. Our voices, all six of them, echoed in the walls of the houses. We screamed and shouted and sang songs very loud, and there was nobody to hear us. At some point we went back to the sea, my dad, my mom, my cousin and myself. My brother and sister stayed guarding our things. Another family came and sat close but far from us. The husband was carrying a kayak, the wife was very beautiful in the way women look beautiful when they’ve had plastic surgery done in their body. They had two kids and a dog and the nanny. I noticed the nanny was carrying a wooden basket and I couldn’t help but remember the families from the cartoons. The sea was quiet and we went further in. Further, and further, and further in, but the water was only up to our knees and then we were far away from my siblings but we stayed there, we figured why bother going back. We came to swim and be in the sea but the sea is being quiet. A few waves got us wet enough to start shouting again happily, the ones that lift you up and then put you back down. One of this lift us up and kept us lifted and didn’t put us back down. A few more waves were coming, and these were stronger and harder than the ones before. My dad lived in Colombia and spent half of that time in the sea fishing, so he knew enough about the sea and about waves to tell us that we needed to get the hell out of there now. Now. We started swimming, my cousin, my mom and me, and my dad stayed behind making sure we swam out of the water. I’m a very bad swimmer and I got tired quickly, but my dad yelled at me to turn around on my back and keep swimming. While I was doing that I thought how ironic it would be to start singing Dory’s song from Finding Nemo, but I didn’t tell anyone. My cousin was swimming next to me and I asked her if she was tired too. She’s always been a good person, and a very good friend and cousin, and an even better christian. And it didn’t seem ironic when she smiled at me and started singing Just Keep Swimmin’. I noticed she didn’t really understand what was going on. We were almost drowning and she was singing the song from Finding Nemo. I didn’t tell her anything, if I would’ve said anything I would’ve gotten more tired and I had to concentrate in swim the hell out of the water. Every now and then my mom turned her head around to check on us, but she couldn’t turn around to help us. She couldn’t swim to us because of the direction of the waves and she would’ve drowned if she would’ve tried. But she kept yelling at us to swim. She was the first to touch ground and as soon as she did, she turned around and kept yelling at us. I finally touched ground and walked a little and felt my legs very tired and laid down on the sand, my cousin sat down next to me and asked about my dad. Only then I realized my dad wasn’t swimming behind us, he was still way into the sea and going further in because of the waves. But I thought, he’s a good swimmer and he lived in Colombia and worked as a fisherman, he will swim the hell out of there, and I stayed there laying on the sand. While we were swimming, I saw my siblings were standing still looking at us. My brother is a very weird person, he’s almost never home and when he is he only asks for money. But if one of us is troubled he’d walk through hell to get us out. I saw him taking off his shirt and felt like laughing. You gotta be kidding, with this waves, and you’re even worse than me swimming, I thought. But my mom was already out and she saw him too and yelled at him to go get the man in the kayak. I never noticed when suddenly it was crowded around us and my cousin was pulling me up and taking me where our stuff was. I told her I was going to stay until my dad came out so we stayed there, holding each other. There was a lot of people around us who came out of nowhere. The beach was empty when we got there and suddenly there were thirty people helping a life-saver to get into the water. The man with the kayak grabbed his kayak and went to get my dad. He got there really fast but on the way back the waves kept pushing them and throwing them in the water. A few minutes later I saw my dad’s face changing colors, blue, to purple, to green, to yellow, to very pale almost white and then he threw up. Everyone around us started clapping and cheering and the man with the kayak was greeted by his wife and kids, while the nanny was with my sister, who escaped from her and ran to us. A while later everyone was gone and we were all resting and laying on the sand trying to get dried. An hour passed by and none of us said anything, we just laid close to each other and rested and breathed with our eyes closed. My dad stood up and we all followed him without asking where he was going. We all knew already. So we all walked together up to the man with the kayak and his family and thanked them. As it turns out, the man was way taller than my dad, and he reminded me of David Hasselhoff but charmer and younger. The wife was actually very beautiful naturally and the kids were not older than ten. They smiled and left, and we didn’t even know when they did. We were alone once again. I said I was hungry. After wearing myself out doing anything that can wear me out I always get very hungry but feel like eating junk food. I pointed out that none of us was going to cook, and we all looked at each other in silence. And bursted out laughing. Point taken. We got our stuff together and got in the car and drove listening to 80s pop music looking for a Burger King or McDonald’s, whichever we found first. We ordered and sat and waited for our food, and started talking about what the hell had just happened. My dad said that he stayed behind because he was a good swimmer and he could get out in a second, but the rest of us sucked and he was worried particularly about me, because I suck more than the suckiest swimmer on … I was going to say earth but, water. So once we were out he started swimming. He said there was a seashell under him and as hard as he swam the seashell was still there. He didn’t move at all. So he stopped and stayed there waving his arms so we could see him. One wave lifted him up and he could see us and everyone else, but then the other one pushed him into the water and he held his breath. At some point when another wave lifted him up he said he looked up to the sky and saw one single white cloud next to the sun. He pointed at it and started screaming, you really love to laugh at me, don’t you? How many times have you done this already? What’s the point? What are you trying to prove? What do you want? And he continued his fight with God, yelling at him and pointing and that cloud. Being raised in a christian family and then getting in trouble for not buying what they say at church is one thing. But when your car breaks and you’re four years old and a slightly drunk driver sees you and your brother’s faces and he pulls up and fixes the car and your dad thanks God, or when you’re almost drowning and make it out of the water except for your dad and there just so happens to be a man with a kayak close to you, that’s completely something else. What’s sad is that when this happened I realized that people (me included) need to be in danger to believe, even if it’s just for those ten minutes when they think they’re about to die and suddenly God exists or any other deity that you think can save you. My dad specially has been through several moments like this, and although he mostly narrates it in a funny way, he’s serious. His problem is that he always narrates everything in a funny way, as serious as the subject can be. I obviously inherited that.

All of this has been coming back to me because I’m reading a book by Gabriel García Márquez called The Story Of A Shipwrecked Sailor. I wanted to remember the whole thing so I decided to write it all. I think I’m gonna add it to my collection…

I Once Almost Drowned

Created: Jun 13, 2010


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