Not My Fault

Reed Cooper

Mr. Jockers

English Period 6



I stared at the rumbling wave above my head.



I could feel the ocean’s current pulling me towards the white ripples and could see the smooth yet rough rocks beneath my feet rushing faster and FASTER into the deep blue water. I knew that where I had been glancing at is where I would soon be restrained and immobilized against my will for what would feel like an eternity.


“Do you think he’s still sleeping?” Ryan whispered over my body to Madeline.

Great. No matter where or when I was sleeping, it always seemed that I would wake up to the sound of these kids. They were early birds, unlike me. As I briskly opened my eyelids, I observed a little foot swiftly moving out of the room leaving the door ajar causing the cool outside air to move in.


I was in Malibu visiting my Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins: Madeline who was 7 and Ryan who was 5. It was a hot day (as it always was in California), so of course Madeline and Ryan pleaded to go down to the beach. . . After being slathered up with sunscreen, to protect us from the scorching hot rays of the sun, we headed down the staircase in back of the house.

I placed my foot on the dark yellow sand and let it sink in before lifting it up and moving forward again. The water was calmly washing up my ankles, forming little waves when it came in contact with my flesh. I walked away from the wet, cold sand and onto the warm and dry sand further up the beach. In order to walk down the beach while avoiding the water, I had to duck under the heavy wooden stilts the houses were built on top of. After passing the stilts, Madeline and Ryan would proceed to run, scream, and laugh with each other until they found a spot on the shore they’d like to play on. My aunt and I followed them down the beach, all the while smelling the 100 FPS Coppertone sunscreen trail they had left to linger in the air.


Once Aunt Rebecca and I reached Madeline and Ryan, we set the chairs down while the children made sand castles and dug and threw sand and pushed each other.

I gazed out into the water and watched the white waves wash up on the shore. Without much thought I got up and started walking towards the water.

“I’m going swimming,” I told Aunt Rebecca.

“Okay, just make sure you don’t go out too far.”

So I ran down to the shoreline and waited for the set of big waves to pass before I would begin to move into the water.


Entering the water at the right moment was always the trickiest part about swimming in the ocean off the coast of California because if the entry is not timed correctly, you’d be hit be a wave and get thrown around, which took all the fun out of swimming. I knew I could do it, though.

Once the set of waves had ended, I quickly sprinted into the water and immediately started swimming further and further away from the shore to avoid getting stuck under a breaking wave.

I could hear the Whooshing of the waves behind me as I paddled further out. The calmness of the waves made me not realize that the strong currents had pulled me further out into the water than I had planned on going. Each new wave that crashed on the shore had a stronger and STRONGER current that pulled me further out each time.

“Come back, Reed! You’re too far!” Aunt Rebecca shouted.

I had already started to swim back to shore (as anyone would do in this situation) to try and avoid being pulled out any further. The set of big waves with strong currents had started to come to an end, or at least I had thought they had, making me think I had the perfect chance to make my escape. I was wrong. I was at the point where the waves were breaking when I noticed the tall and dark looking wave gradually start to build up behind me. I didn’t get the opportunity to swim and closer to the shore before I realized I was directly beneath the now massive wave. I was frozen while staring the blurry blue water rippling down over my head. It was the first time in a long time I had actually felt worried, and being unprepared for the amount of force that would be pressing my body against the ground did not help.

“Reed! Re-” Aunt Rebecca shouted at me possibly thinking it would help me move out of the way.

As I gasped for my last breath of air for God knows how long, salt water poured into my mouth moments before the entire wave collapsed onto my body knocking the life out of me. I didn’t care about the horrid taste in my mouth, I just wanted to get out of the water as soon as possible. In less than a second, my eyes shut firmly and my body was submerged beneath the water’s surface. The force of the wave pounding against my body felt as though an elephant had just collapsed on my chest. The rocks were clicking and smashing against each other as the current moved onto the beach.

It Hurt.

After the longest few seconds of my life, I finally was granted the ability to consciously move again. I poked my head out of the ocean water and gasped for air. I quickly stood up on my weary legs and ran towards the warm and dry sand just ahead of me.


As I grew towards the brightly colored umbrella my aunt was sitting under, I noticed the frantic look on her face.

“I told you not to go out too far!” Aunt Rebecca spoke with a worried tone in her voice.

“I’m. . . I’m sorry, okay?” There were a thousand things I could of said in that moment such as explaining how it wasn’t My Fault, or that I wouldn’t go swimming the next day, but I froze in response to the shakiness in my aunt’s voice. At least I knew she cared.

“Are you okay?” she said in a calmer tone, “Does anything hurt?”

“I’m fine, don’t worry about it, I think I just got the wind knocked out of me.” This wasn’t entirely true, but I didn’t want to run the risk of worrying my aunt further. And to be honest, nothing really hurt that badly, just a little bruise on the right side of my body. At this time, Madeline and Ryan ran up the beach to the where we were sitting.

“Reed, just let me take you inside and you could lie down”

“Really, I’m fine, I just got carried out by the current and got hit by a wave . . . that’s it” I could see the sour look on her face, almost as if she wasn’t buying what I was saying.

“Really.” I forcefully insisted.

“Wait, what?” Madeline cluelessly spoke as she injected herself into the conversation.  

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie,” I overheard my aunt say as I lay down on the beach towel a couple feet away from the umbrella.

A while passed before I noticed the burning hot sun had evaporated the moisture away from my skin.


“Okay, I think it’s time to go back inside,” Aunt Rebecca spoke waking me up from my nap.

As we headed back towards the house and once again felt the cold ocean water brushing up my ankles as if it were trying to pull me back in; as if it had a mind of its own.

“Pfhht” I scoffed at the thought that maybe it wasn’t My Fault at all.

Whatever. I headed inside trying my best to ignore the somewhat throbbing pain on the right side of my body.


Maybe I won’t go swimming tomorrow . . .

or the day after that.


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