Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting It Out

This isn’t good writing. Hell, it’s probably bad writing (I haven’t read it, just wrote it five minutes after the bottle of water). I’m posting it on blogger because I need to get this crap into the universe. Maybe then the world will start to make sense again. I feel like I’m in some alternate reality and I’ll wake up and my mom won’t really be here, like I’ve made a better reality in my own mind – one where she lived. 

She screamed my name, I turn to see the surf beating her down. She surfaces and I’ve never seen such terror. My heart stops beating. My terror rises to match mom’s. She’s going to die. I can’t watch my momma die. Momma. She tries to reach my outstretched hand. I needed her to reach my fingers. If I could just touch her fingers I knew it would be okay. Every time she got close another wave slammed into her, ripping her further away from me.

I can’t get any closer to her, the stone is soaked and the moss will steal my footing and I know, know despite my desperate need to reach her, that if I move closer, I’ll be gone as well. And then there will be no one to help. As I kneel the waves sweep over my legs and lower abdomen. It’s supposed to be cold but I can’t feel anything.

I scream. For her. For help. For anything that will make it better.

Running steps. Voices.


Other partygoers have come to help. P steps into the surf, his hands close around my mothers. Another wave comes to sweep him out. D, his son, jumps in the water to help his father. A crowd is behind me, someone brings a lifesaver.

My baby sister comes running, ignores her self-preservation and goes to leap after my mom. She’s grabbed as she slips, and is pulled backward. Uncle S throws the lifesaver out. It doesn’t reach.

P and D get my mom to stand. Her dress is around her waist. Pull down your dress before you embarrass yourself – god, what am I thinking. My mom could die and this is what I think? A wave smashes them down. P and D move with the tide and push her forward. Sister grabs her hand and mom is dragged out. J, P’s wife and D’s mother runs in to save her family. I feel her pain.

My mom stands behind me, surrounded by others. Crying, chanting over and over “Look what I’ve done.”

I’m glad she’s safe but I’m too petrified to turn to her. To see her. Because I thought she was going to be gone and I don’t know how to deal.

I watch the other three get pulled out.

My cousin M turns towards me. I start shaking. Tears pour down my face. He wraps an arm around me and tells me its okay. I get myself under control. I walk back to my Uncle’s house, get a drink of water – my hands won’t stop shaking.

July twenty fourth my heart stopped beating. For one, horrifying, moment I thought I was going to lose my mother. I wasn’t ready.

The water mesmerizes you as it crashes against the beach, the waves sparkle and entice. You’re seduced by the sheer magnificence stretched along the horizon. You want to join, to feel just for a moment, what the ocean does. You dip your toes in. Relish in the freedom.

Peace settles over you, nature’s beauty spread beneath you. Maybe you feel powerful.

And then with a mischievous grin, the water tries to steal you, to assert it’s dominance. To prove that no matter how strong man feels, he will never have the upper hand.


  1. um wow, girl you had me mesmerized (TRULY) and wondering if this was real (true?). My favorite line:And then with a mischievous grin, the water tries to steal you, to assert it’s dominance. To prove that no matter how strong man feels, he will never have the upper hand.

  2. Wow! That was amazing! That last part was my favorite as well. Well done!

  3. ...I thought it was quite good, and sharing anything you're undecided about was a worthy decision, this our "practice field" after all.
    Whenever I'm not happy about something I've written, I put it on the shelf for a while and think about it while mowing the yard or walking the dog. The puzzle piece you're looking for will show itself in time:)

  4. Don't know how you managed to capture my thoughts before I got swept into the ocean. I WAS mesmerized by the ocean- which is why I stayed there too long. I had lost complete track of time and felt free. Maybe it was what you saw through the camera lenses when you took my picture as I stood there.

  5. OMG Melissa. My heart skipped several beats.

    Is this a true story? Did this really happen to your family?

    I think it's beautiful and emotional.

  6. Very intense! I loved it. We all have to lose our parents at one point, and it strikes me now and then with a pang.

  7. Very intense indeed! Wow, did this really happen--I was so scared, on the edge of my seat.

    I love that last line too--it's very true.

  8. Great writing--you hooked me! Such a strong scene. And I, too, love the last line. Wow.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. It was great to hear from you :-)

  9. Amazing!!!! It's been awhile since I stopped by but I'm loving that I'm here now!!! LOVED IT!!!

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  11. Hey Melissa,
    What a terrifying experience! Wow. And so brave of you to post too. It's not bad writing. You're so hard on yourself!

    I responded to your comment on my blog, btw. I wanted to say that in medias res is not the ONLY way to start a story, it's only one technique. So it doesn't mean yours is wrong, it's only food for thought.
    If your story isn't meant to start this way, that's okay!

  12. That was some powerful writing! I was mesmorized...and then enlightened by the insight at the end.

    Truly good stuff!

  13. Wow. That's all I can say. You told me the story but how you wrote it here gave me tingles. Just wow. I'm so sorry this happened to you and your family. The week is over. I'm really glad I have you in my life.

  14. I know it doesn’t take much to doubt ourselves as writers… it probably a prerequisite.
    I did like it; I was able to see it clearly.

    Maybe somewhere add some sound, like birds mocking peacefully in the background.

    My experience with waves is that they toss you forwards then rip you back, so maybe the wave would buffet her forwards in your grasps then rip her away again.

    I am giving the advice I would want if I wrote it. Hope it helps—no doubt you have great talent, don’t listen to that negative voice telling you it doesn’t work.

    The biggest problem when I write something, is it never lives up to what I see when I write it, so I figure it sucks and will never come across the way it should.

    Great stuff keep it up.

  15. This was powerful. Ensnaring. Heart-breaking despite the happy ending. Beautiful. Salude.

    <3 Kelsey Leigh

  16. The writing is perfect. You know why? Because it portrays real emotion. real imagery. I don't know if this really happened or not but it doesn't matter (well, I mean, if it WAS real, we're glad everyone's ok). We were there. Very well done!

  17. Sounds terrifying. But your writing is wonderful. You captured the images and emotions so vividly. Have you considered submitting this to a literary journal? Duotrope and NewPages are excellent sites for literary journal information.

    I'm glad your mom is safe and doing well! And I'm glad you are, too.

  18. Melissa, how absolutely horrifying for both of you. I almost drown during a swim lesson at five years of age and I still remember the horror of those minutes. I know how your mother felt. I can only imagine how you felt watching it all happen. This was a great recreation of such a traumatic event - I felt like I was there as I read it. My breath caught in my throat as I watched your mom struggle against the water. I'm just relieved that this had a good outcome. Thanks for sharing it with us. You painted such a vivid picture!


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