Caught in a riptide and struggling to breathe, she didn't think she'd make it back to shore alive.
Posted in , Jun 25, 2020
With my husband away on a business trip, I planned to spend a quiet weekend at home. But when my friend Chickie and her husband, Dom, invited me to join them for an afternoon at the beach, I was tempted. “I had an asthma attack yesterday, and it really tired me out,” I warned them. “So I’ll probably just lie out on the sand. It’s too humid for me to do much.”
A few hours later, relaxing under a sun umbrella after a picnic lunch, I was glad I’d come. Chickie and Dom went for a dip. They liked to go far out before swimming parallel to the shore. Shielding my eyes, I looked for them in the water, but they were too far away. The tide was low, and we’d laid our towels in a grassy area quite far from the surf. I soaked up the sun until I got too hot, then took a walk down to the shore.
For a few minutes I just let the waves lap around my legs. The ocean was smooth as glass. I could float on my back as if I were in a swimming pool, I thought, and did. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the gentle rocking underneath me. The sun wasn’t quite so hot this late in the afternoon.
I drifted peacefully until the water beneath me dipped and rolled, splashing over my face. I opened my eyes and looked around. How did I get so far from shore? I hadn’t realized how quickly the sea was carrying me.
I started swimming as quick and hard as I could. Even so I wasn’t getting any closer, and it was becoming harder to breathe. I spun around with a splash, looking for help, but I seemed to be completely alone in the water. Far off on the sand I could see people packing up their umbrellas and towels. It must be nearly five o’clock, I thought. That’s when the lifeguard went off duty.
A wave slapped my face and I swallowed salt water. My chest was already burning as I struggled to breathe. I had no air to call for help. In desperation I raised one hand and waved it to get the lifeguard’s attention. I’ll never last till he reaches me, I thought. They’re all too far away. I’m going to drown out here and nobody even sees me!
Two young men were suddenly near me. “Help,” I managed to whisper.
One of them grabbed my arm. The other grabbed his arm. Together they pulled me toward the shore. The lifeguard splashed into the water with his board. “You can stand here,” he said. “The water’s shallow.”
I shook my head. I was too exhausted to stand, much less walk. They laid me over the board.
“You were caught in a riptide,” the lifeguard said as the three of them carried me onto the sand, still shaking, trying to catch my breath.
“Are you all right now?” one of my rescuers asked.
I looked up at the two of them and nodded. For the first time I got a really good look at them. Vanilla was the word that came to my mind to describe them. They looked nearly alike, as if they were twins. Their skin was neither pale nor dark. They were neither short nor tall. Their hair wasn’t any color I could name. Just two clean-cut young men. Plain vanilla. “Thank you so much for saving my life. And thank you too,” I said to the lifeguard.
The few others had gathered on the beach. I felt embarrassed and got up to walk back to my towel. After just a few steps I looked back again for the twins.
The beach was nearly empty as the small crowd dispersed. The lifeguard packed his things. The water was empty. In the few seconds since I’d turned around, my twin saviors had simply vanished.
“There you are!” Dom said when I got back to the towel. “We wondered where you were.”
“Did you go swimming?” Chickie asked.
I looked back at the water once more. Then I sat down with my friends to tell them about the angels.
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