Writing Prompt: Undertow

I carried the small lime green plastic bucket to the sea, a white bendy spade in my hand. Over the next hour, I went back and forth from the water to the dry sand a few feet up the beach where my brother and I worked on a sand castle. As I collected the water for our little moat, he moulded towers and battlements of sand and sea shells.

Mom and Dad sat close to us on folding beach chairs, the kind that had leg-rests attached and were woven of multicoloured plastic strips and metal.

On one of my trips down to the water’s edge, I stood on the shore making fists with my toes in the sand. I looked out across the water as the waves gather far out along the horizon. As I focused my attention at the skyline, I didn’t notice the undertow that had me in its grasp in seconds. The wave sucked me under and rolled my five-year-old frame in sand, water and seaweed. I panicked and choked on salt water before my father could fish me out. I’m certain that he was at my side in seconds, but the shock and surprise of going under the cold water left me with a fear of water from which I’ve never quite recovered.

It’s funny, I can draw some parallels to that and other parts of my life. I’ve looked at some people, admiring the horizon, unaware that there were some harmless looking wave and ripples hiding the undertow that lurked underneath.

Have you ever been caught with your guard down?

It doesn’t always follow that a shock is a bad thing, but the effects can be long lasting….

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