Surviving the Ocean of Fear
The blazing hot sun blistered my skin. The burning sand scorched the bottoms of my feet as it ran between my toes. The sound of waves crashing sent chills down my spine. The smell of salt filled my nostrils with a bitter sweet scent. It was a good day… or so I thought.
DAY 1: The Day Before The Incident
August 2015. It was the week of my sisters birthday, and my whole family was heading down to Rehoboth Delaware because that’s where my sister wanted to spend her birthday. I was excited mainly because I hadn’t been to Delaware in for a long time, and I wanted to spend the whole week down at the beach. When we arrived at the house we would be staying at for the next week, I just wanted to go to sleep.
“Don’t you want to try some crabs?” my mom asked.
I had just been in a small cramped car for the last seven and a half hours. I’d been eating junk food the entire ride, and I was not very hungry.
“They’re a specialty around here!” Mom insisted.
So, instead of stretching out in the big bed at the rental house, Dad plugged in to coordinates for Crabby Dick’s crab shack, and we went out for a late dinner.
The next day, we all slept till noon and then got on the road to head to the beach. It was a very populated beach with small to medium waves that were basically harmless. When we arrived at the beach, my dad and I became the pack mules for my sister and mom. We carried the chairs and the towels and the coolers and the boogie boards and pretty much everything else we had in the car. We hauled all our gear to a nice spot on the sand and spread our things around to try and claim as much real estate as possible.
The weather wasn’t to bad, not very hot but still a nice day to spend at the beach. The soft sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore was barely heard over the screams of seagulls searching for french fries dropped in the sand by little kids. I kicked off my slides and felt the warm sand on the bottoms of my pink feet. I dug around in one of the dozen bags we’d hauled with us, but I couldn’t find the one thing I was looking for.
“Where’s the sunscreen?” I asked with a annoyed look on my face.
“It should be in the backpack, idiot!” exclaimed my sister.
It turned out that we had no sunscreen. The sun didn’t seem very strong, so we decided to go without. That day we burned like fish on a frying pan.
I had some fun messing around. The waves were hardly waves, so my boogie boarding wasn’t great, but I tried my best to get my mood into relaxed, vacation mode. The day ended, and I was as red as a Coke can. We got home at just after dark, and we spent the rest of the night watching DVD copy of Goonies that a previous renter had left behind.
DAY 2: The Incident
“Wakey, wakey, Adam. We’re going to a different beach today. More waves, and more quality family time.”
My mom always woke me up in the worst ways: turning on the lights, pulling my blankets off, slamming doors, pretty much all the worst ways.
I checked my phone, and it was 8:00. I was not ready to go anywhere any time soon. This was vacation, after all. I thought to myself. Aren’t we allowed to rest? I was, however, excited about the possibility of more waves. Yesterday’s beach trip was like a boring day on Long Island Sound: warm, dirty water filled with little kids and their wet swim diapers. So, I got my swimsuit on and helped pack the car for the day-long adventure.
The short ride to the new beach took about fifteen minutes and the whole ride the only songs on the radio were Cheerleader and Shut up and Dance (this was before these songs drove me insane.) When we reached the small town of Bethany you could immediately see the not so blue water on the kind of white sandy beach. It was probably ninety degrees that day, the hottest day yet, and plus the fact of me being the color of a perfectly ripe tomato my skin was blistering. Mom had sent dad out to CVS the night before to stock up on SPF 50, and we squeezed out as much as possible onto ourselves before doing anything else. I covered my entire body and felt the cooling of the 50 SPF sunscreen. Otherwise, we followed the same routine as the day before: my dad and I carried our belongings and my mom and sister picked out our spot.
This beach was about half the size of Rehoboth and not as crowded. As we walked up to the edge of the sand I saw the huge waves and was excited to get out on the water and boogie board.
“These waves don’t look dangerous at all,” said my dad with a very noticeable amount of sarcasm in his voice, but my mom didn’t notice. She seemed really concerned.
“Yeah the water isn’t very safe. We should probably just leave.”
My sister and I did a synchronized facepalm, and we ran with our boogie boards out to the water before anyone could stop us. We heard mom and dad behind us debating the quality of the lifeguards. I didn’t swim out to far, or my mom would freak out even more. Plus, if I got hit by one of these waves at the wrong angle, it would be all over.
The first wave came and It was nothing crazy, so I waited for the next one. The second one came, and it was a big one. I could feel the current draw back leaving my ankles the only things submerged in water. SMASH!! The wave took me down so hard I couldn’t move after the hit. I swallowed a big gulp of water that left my mouth dry and bitter. Everything was black under the water, I was very disoriented like my head was on fire. I was scared. I was thinking to myself, Am I going to live another day?
I used as much force as I could to stand up and try to swim back to shore, but before I knew it, another wave loomed over me. This one was even bigger. Beneath my feet, sharp, jagged rocks cut at my heels which I tried my best to dig in with. It was no use, so I changed strategies. I pushed off of the bottom, pumped my arms, and kicked my legs hoping I could make it back to shore before being demolished by another wave. None of that helped. I was crushed by another huge wave and smashed right into those jagged rocks, slicing up my chest real good. I was in a lot of pain, but I had to make it back to shore. Water slid down my throat, and I vomited it up along with a little of the crab I ate the night before. I kept swimming even though I could feel the water being pulled back behind me. I knew a colossal wave was coming, but I needed to keep on going to survive. The water was to my ankles, but behind me, the roar of the waves was just as loud. I decided to make a break for it and book it back to shore.
I made it. I had survived. I was on my knees, blood on my chest, snot hanging from my nose, and drool on my chin. My mom ran towards me–I wasn’t able to hear her panicked screams while I was fighting for my life, but now, seeing me, she let out a shriek that could be heard on the moon.
“OOOOOHHHH MYYYY GOOOOD!”
I wiped the cold boogers from my chin, and looked up at her.
“That… was… AWESOME!”
Bright red blood mixed with the salty water and dripped down my chest, but my adrenaline was still flowing like crazy, and I didn’t feel a thing. I plopped down on the ground and take long deep breaths to try and comprehend everything that just happened. My sister came out from the water a few minutes after me with her hair sticking straight up and her shoulder bleeding.
“I HATE THE OCEAN SO MUCH!!”
“BECAUSE IT HATES ME!!”
“I hope you get sand in your *#@!.”
“Well… you’re in luck.”
We soon started sharing our tales of our adventure in the surf, and somehow managed to convince my mom to let us back into the water. My sister and I had the best time together. Using our initial, terrifying experience to help us, we managed to ride the waves and avoid become two pieces of driftwood.
After lunch,we packed up our things and cleaned ourselves off. To this day I have a SUPER tiny scar on my chest that is very hard to see, but every time I see it, it reminds me of that scary but amazing day at the beach.