The day was sunny and clear, as any day devoted to the beach should be. A slight breeze to calm the heat. With the majority of people busy with work or school, leaving the sand and water mostly vacant, a more perfect outing would have been difficult to purposefully arrange. Serendipity had landed them in the idyllic situation, working as serendipity often does, at its own whim. The plans they’d constructed were all last-minute, thrown together haphazardly based on a spur-of-the-moment; late stage senioritis. Deciding to abandon adult responsibilities mid-week, calls were made, out of office email notifications set.
Danielle and David intended to spend the bulk of their hours being bums, lazing about on towels under giant umbrellas, dozing off or reading, chatting; maybe occasionally dipping a toe into the ocean. They’d packed for the purposefully uneventful venture by way of food, drinks, loads of sunscreen, and various celery-like reading materials. Phones were intentionally locked away in the car to facilitate the air of care-free peace they wished to establish.
Most of their day followed the conceived plot of blissful monotony. As Danielle’s eyes fluttered open post-catnap, she stretched and suggested they try to swim a little. The drone of the wave rhythm sang to her, she announced.
David found himself successfully tempted out from under the shady shelter of the over-large umbrella, pulled by the promise of cool refreshment on his skin, and Danielle’s beloved hand. They shed all items that they didn’t wish to lose to the mighty sea, casting them into a messy pile in the middle of the towels.
Like dolphins, they played for an hour among the white caps, laughing, splashing. Sixty minutes was plenty to satisfy Danielle’s aquatic friskiness, and she said as much aloud to David, working to coax him back to their spot. His refusal prompted her to return to his side to drag him away bodily. The pair of them laughing and fighting playfully. Her pulling on his arm toward the water’s edge, him standing steadfastly against her urges. David’s defiance held no real purpose outside of being flirtatious and mischievous, truth told, he was just as done with this part of the excursion as she was.
Another tug on his hand, David turned to follow finally. He stepped carefully, wary of the power around his legs. Two steady steps toward the goal, and the tide ripped soggy sand out from under their feet in such a way to be startling, though not scary. Danielle laughed, grasping harder onto Daniel’s arm. The earth below her foot sucking the appendage in faster than a bear trap. With a second rush of water toward them, then away, Danielle stood witness as David was lifted up, and tumbled away from shore.
Panic caught in her throat as she attempted to regain her hold on him. Wet fingers slid too easily over wet skin, her grip released against her will quicker than a struggle for purchase could be made. Unable to move, she screamed out his name, hoping somehow to guide him back to her, hoping somehow that the ocean would hear and release him from its grasp. David’s arms did not flail in the shallows, she saw no sign of the crown of his head peeking between the hills. Danielle pulled at the offending leg, freeing it just in time for the combers to settle back into their prior rhythm.