A Narrow Escape

March 25, 2008
By Stephanie Keller, Schenectady, NY

Images of my face on the ten o’clock news flashed in my mind. All my dreams would never be true. Never again would I see my family or friends ever again just because of that one step, that one crucial step.

It was like most days, our first steps into the saltwater instantly healed the heat exhaustion that was often experienced from the sweltering summer sun. We were welcomed to the beach by the large sign reminding us not to swim in the water, for the tides in Chatham are extremely strong. The gentle crash of waves and the flecks of beauty shimmered on the endless shore beckoning us to walk further. A lone man occupied a small plot of land, with the classic grimy smell known only to come from a fisherman coming from his tattered clothes. As we continued up the beach we noted the broken remains of shells as they dug in to the bottoms of our bare feet, until he spotted the sandbar, the mysterious wonder sticking up from the glittering waters. It was he who decided to venture out to it, stepping carefully through the shallow water invested with tiny horseshoe crabs. I, being the younger sibling of the two of us, naturally decided to follow him. He first and I trailing clumsily behind, followed tiptoeing over the thin bit of water that stretched up the beach. With each step, we were reminded of the small creatures that we were stepping on by receiving a painful shock. Nearly running now, to reduce the tremendous amount of pain exhibited by the tiny creatures we reached the massive sandbar. My brother, seeming to be tired, took a seat on the sand as I decided to venture off to find something more interesting. After quite sometime I noticed that what had seemed to be a gentle slope suddenly dropped off leaving a massive darkness under the surface of the water before me. At this moment, I realized how deep the water had gotten and I had to squint to see the sandy safeness I had left behind that morning. As quickly, as I could I made my way back to my brother. The small sand structure that he was making with his feet earlier was gone and he was merely standing in the waist deep water just watching the waves tumble before him. I began at this time, to feel the great force of the ocean as the water sucked us out in to deeper water. I let him know that we had to go back but he wouldn’t listen. He assured me that we had plenty of time but I didn’t believe him as the water crashed down, now easily over my head. Again, the ocean picked us up and moved us further out. Panic began building inside me. I begged him to go back to the beach, when he wouldn’t I decided I couldn’t take this waiting any longer. I began to start swimming back to the distant coast, the strong currents preventing me to swim with ease. The burning of the salt on my cut feet was not noticeable any longer, for I was overwhelmed by a sudden shock. The shock that made me realize that could die right now.

It could be me… I could be that poor child who was too ignorant of the strength of the ocean and went off on to the sandbar. It would be my parents who were the tragedy stricken couple on the ten-o’clock news, just wanting to know what happened to their baby. I never said a real good good-bye to them. I never accomplished my dreams yet. I did nothing yet on this world, nothing that really counted. I could die. Of course, like everyone I knew that people can die, and that one day, I too will die, but before death slaps you in the face, you don’t really know it, and after this happened I began to live.
I don’t remember the ending to that day. I don’t even know if it really happened. But, I do know of a few things, for example when I say good-bye to people now I say it like I mean it, like it could be the very last time I see them. I now truly know that people die. I know that I too will unexpectedly die as well. I know that each person doesn’t know when the crisis will strike, the time that they look back and for the first time start to live. Whatever happens, whatever choices you make, you had better think about it for more then just a bit, because it just might be the last thing you ever do.

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