We found three beach chairs and threw our towels and sunscreen on them, then ran for the water. Mandy and Matt didn’t waste any time plunging in. I ran fast, but screeched to a halt at the water’s edge as the familiar quiver grabbed ahold. It started at the top of my tummy and worked its way down to the pit—my chicken-self taking over.
Gathering a small amount of courage, I squeezed my eyes shut and dipped the tips of my toes in. Hundreds of schools of colored fish darted around in the water and headed right for me. My imagination ran rampant. Did I really just see the yellow fish’s teeth gnashing and snarling at me?
I jerked my feet out like a spazoid on steroids. “Eek!” Arms spinning like a windmill, I over-dramatized the move and flailed back on my heels, butt-planting into the wet sand, leaving the sassy imprint of two round butt cheeks.
My hands shook, and I clutched my stomach, cussing myself for drinking so much water earlier. I got back up again, and my head jerked to the right, then the left—looking for the millions of people who had seen me commit that horrid mistake.
I crept back to the water’s edge, forcing myself to stand and watch them. Maybe the fish weren’t as vicious as I first thought. In fact, they were beautiful. My heart slowed down and took its place back in my chest. I edged my toes back in again and, after taking a deep breath, inched in a little farther.
“Get in here, Sophia, you’re missing out on all the fun.” Mandy waved at me from the waist-high water her and Matt were standing in.
My lips trembled and my voice shook. “I will …just trying to savor the moment. Take it all in.” Truth is, it wasn’t just the fish I was afraid of. It was the vastness. The ocean was so big and unforgiving—water overwhelming. Seagulls screeched overhead, but I got braver, slinking my way farther into the deep.
Matt and Mandy splashed one another, laughing. There was no mistaking they were lovers, and I waded toward them slowly and reluctantly, my feet dragging—pushing the heavy water. An intruder in their world of water.
I squinted into the sun, the water swooshing around my legs. “Comin’ in hot.”