Snatched

The waves had violently crashed against the rock wall; hungry and unrelenting as they thrashed
at the sandstone separating the pool from the ocean. Adamant to make it succumb to its clutches.
I remember that summer acutely like a branding iron had scalded it into my memory.
***
Gabby strained her back in an attempt to lean back in the beachside recliner. She watched as the
children splashed innocently in the whitewash. The waves caught them, tipping them backwards,
she would catch her breath in apprehension as she waited for them to fall and be swallowed up.
To see their heads bobbing, gasping for breath as they tumbled in the frenzy of the waves like a
little towel being beaten in a washing machine.
***
As we pulled into the slot, adjacent to the sea pool, I felt this rock drop inside my stomach, it was heavy and sickening… I already felt something was wrong. The sky was too dark, thunderous,
and clouds too low, sulking in the distance. As Dad reached to pull the key from the ignition,
Mum slapped his hands away as she belted the last tunes from the song. I rolled my eyes. So
embarrassing. Toby joined Dad, clapping small palms in encouragement, the fat of his cheeks
bouncing in unison with his high pitched giggles. I remember that 10-year old me, so innocent
and unknowing.
Lightning struck the headland and the boom echoed across the lee shore. Droplets dribbled
across my face- tears or rain? My body taut with tension, nerveless and all I could hear was my
heart pounding as my eyes were blinded by flashing blue and red lights. I wished it wasn’t real, I
could almost pretend it wasn’t real, except the acute smell of salt and searingly dry wisps of wind, which chaffed the crusted insides of my nose. The small foot, slipping from under the white sheet. Once wriggly and full of life, hung, swinging, colliding with the stretcher. Only 4. Now, devoid of life.
It was my fault. I didn’t jump. I just stood there. Save him, they cried. Voices. Desperation.
Screams. I had watched as he fell, the topple and splash, as the waves snatched and engulfed
him. A few shrieks, more like gurgles, as his lungs must have been screaming for oxygen. The
fear was so paralysing, all I could do was wail, like an air-raid siren, useless against attack when
it is already there.
I didn’t know he wasn’t wearing floaties. I was a child. Naive. And yet, it was my fault. I taunted
him to see if he was brave enough to jump into the deep end; a childish game. “Don’t be a baby,”
I had challenged.
***
Gabby’s daughters waved their hands, enthusiastically inviting her in. She slowly coaxed herself towards the beckoning calls. Inching deeper and deeper, allowing the water to envelop her. She
took a confident breath in, puffed out her chest and continued to wade deeper.
So next time she wouldn’t have to jump.

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