Sunday, August 05, 2007

At The Beach

Hot. Dry. Sunny.

The weather could not be better for early August on the southern coast of Maine. My wife, two kids and I walked slowly over the Ogunquit River Footbridge toward the beach. We were weighed down with beach chairs, boogie boards, towels as well as the rest of our beach gear. As we made our decent down the stairs to the beach we surveyed the shoreline for a spot by the water. The tide was high so space on the beach was tight. We found a spot where the tide had peaked and the sand was dry. I set up our umbrella, chairs and towels while my wife played with the boys in the gentle waves.

I lay back in one of the chairs and closed my eyes. With my eyes closed my other senses heightened. I could smell the suntan lotion of the twenty something girl with the cute rear lying on a towel behind my chair. I could feel the hairs on my chest stiffen while the slight off shore breeze blew intermittently over my darkening torso, giving me occasional relief from the beating sun. I could hear the faint sound of the Sox on the radio, gulls crying, and the voices of my boys frolicking in the waves with their mother. I fell asleep.

I woke up cold. The beach was empty. The air was thick with moisture and it was now overcast. I looked toward the water where my wife and kids had been playing. My four year old son was laying at the waters edge. I ran to him, but my wheels were spinning in the sand. The harder I pumped my legs the slower I moved. His lifeless body rolled back and forth in the sea foam moving with the rhythm of the ocean. I finally reached him and pulled him up onto the beach away from the water. He was cold. I blew into his mouth. He remained lifeless. I picked him up and hugged him tightly, crying.

He rubbed my back and said "Don't cry daddy." I looked him in the eye and asked him "Where is mommy and Peter?".

"They walked into the water and kept going. I tried to get them, but the waves knocked me down and I drowned" Matthew said with no emotion.

"You didn't drown honey, you are hear with me, alive" I assured him.

"No dad, we're dead!" he insisted.

"We are alive Matthew! Look at the clouds, breathe the air, look at the waves."

"You died trying to save me." Matthew stated matter of factly.

I carried him back to the umbrella and blankets, laid him down and towelled him off. An orange-red maple leaf blew onto the blanket next to Matthew. I picked him up, snug in his towel and carried him toward the foot bridge. I looked out at the ocean one last time, the fog was rolling in. The sky looked like it does in late Autumn, as if it could snow at any time. The fog had traveled down the inlet enveloping the end of the bridge near the parking lot. "I love you Matthew" I told him as we headed into the mist.

(I had this dream last night. It was my first night home after long, but satisfying week on vacation in Maine.)


Suldog said...

Holy... You must have been amazingly happy when you woke up. Brrrrr!

(Last night must have been the Sullivan night for bad dreams. I had four or five of them. Horrible night's sleep.)

Mushy said...

That was scary enough to read...can't imagine how you felt when you woke up!

Great writing!