Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Beach...A short story by my daughter Sabrina.

Photo from the Internet, Unknown Photographer. For illustration only.
Hi photographer friends,

Here is something out of the ordinary.
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I think that my daughter is very talented. She can write like I wish I could. She has a completed book that could be published, but getting her to submit it is like pushing a rope. Recently, she wrote a short essay for a writing contest and she won. It took her part of one evening to write the story. It's a little long for this site, but I present you with the essay herein. I would love to know what you think of the story and how she writes. Also, reading the story, what images, or pictures does your imagination see? If you have some pictures, images or drawings that you think fit the story, why not sending it. I would never use your pictures, other than showing them here,without your consent.

P.S. Sabrina is not a little girl, she has a daughter of her own, but it's never too late to get published.


The Beach.

had often dreamt of taking my family on an adventure, where we could find some scarce place and begin to explore it. My daughter, Anna, was only seven, and therefore, I shied away from jungles and vast deserts. When the opportunity came to my husband Henry and me, financially, we decided on the coasts, as a place that was safe, while exciting, that we as a family could map.

We headed south from our home in north Florida, Henry and I spun tales of pirates and buried treasure, mermaids and giant squids, and secrets held by the long dead seafarers of long ago for our daughter. 

After a few days in the car, stopping at whatever caught our attention, we happened to come across a small beach town on the East coast of Southern Florida. The name of the town was unimportant, and we graciously signed in to a small hotel with a pink neon sign and bedded down for the evening.

The next morning, instead of returning to the vehicle and continuing, at least as far as we could, to the southernmost piece of land that jutted out from the tip of Florida, we decided to spend a day on this quiet beach in this quiet town that was apparently unpopular as a tourist destination in Florida.

The beach was vast, with white sand stretching as far as the eye could see, and green waves lapped at the edges of the horizon. We were completely solitary in our beach going that day. We never felt lonely, but there was an air of serenity throughout the experience. Anna and Henry chased each other along the very line that divided the land from the water, and later, I sat and watched as they built a dribbly sand castle. Anna and I collected seashells, and hunted for treasured sharks' teeth, but we were unsuccessful in that pursuit.  

Once the sun began to move towards the western horizon, we unanimously chose to walk south towards the higher, rocky ledges we could see several yards away, to explore what looked like had been neglected by people for a long time. 

 Anna discovered hermit crabs and starfish as Henry and I marveled at the erratic erosion patterns in the limestone that lined this part of the coast. Entire trees had apparently laid down on their side, succumbing to the hypnotizing waves of the ocean, and let the salty waves smooth their edges and turn them into ghostly skeletons of the regal beings they once were. Henry collected intriguing dark stones and empty animal shells in his pocket, and tried to explain to Anna what fossils were, in case her young eyes were able to spot them.  

The sun began to set, but not one of us seemed to notice. We continued South, following the craggy edges of the algae covered stones, and watching the small sand hills towards the land turn into higher and higher faces, until they could have been described as cliff faces, although consciously that never occurred to me. 

At one point, the rocks became quite hard to traverse, and although they projected out over the lapping green ocean, they were farther and fewer between, and covered with slippery green algae, so that I was more worried that Anna would slip. I am a good swimmer, and didn't doubt my ability to save my child had she fallen into the peaceful waves below, but when choosing between the misshapen rocky path near the ocean and the sandier face near the cliff edges, the path nearer the cliffs seemed obviously safer. We moved towards the cliff faces, the sun casting an orange glow over us, and we happily followed a natural path through the beach that we never questioned regarding it's exit towards civilization. Henry, Anna, and I were completely enraptured in the nature around us, the untouched tide pools and austere sandy walls that bordered us on the right. The cliffs were sheared cleanly, washed away in a steady incline by the salty water to our left during higher tides, and layers within the rock were visible, a sneak peek into the eons of times that came before. 

 No words were spoken, but I was sure that Henry and I felt a primal respect for the beach that we walked on. It felt to us as if we were privy to a world that was unseen by the population that laid just mere miles away, in the midst of the bright lights of big cities that couldn't be far away. Tourists had somehow missed this pristine spot, and we felt special and secretive, walking in the shadows of sunset along this silent beach. Anna skipped and chattered as she pointed out faces and shapes she saw within the wave worn cliffs. 

As if we had been engulfed in a fairy's spell, Henry and I realized that it was soon going to be dark, and we were at least a handful of miles away from the beach access that led to the motel with pink neon that we had so recently left to explore the beach. Without panic, we chose to find a way to a place that was safe for Anna and us to take cover for the evening. Being adventurous parents, we were not opposed to finding a camping spot that would shield us from the night until dawn broke in a few hours.  

We walked for a few more minutes, studying the long shadows and admiring the prism of colors that the sunset had left on the immense sea, we happened upon a narrow landing that led up between the sheer cliffs that we had been following. The sand leading up was dark and seemed to consist of several centuries’ worth of crushed seashells, the exoskeletons of billions of tiny life forms that had long since expired. Henry started up the path, and Anna and I followed him unquestioningly.  

More quickly than I would have guessed, the light was reduced to the reflection of the sun from the moon, and we were unable to clearly discern rocks from shadows. Henry pointed to his left, south from our current direction, and I saw what had caught his attention.  

An outcropping of dark brown stone grew from the sandy path we were following, and seemed to lead in a completely horizontal path about halfway up the seemingly unending cliffs that we had followed along the bottom for most of the afternoon. Several yards from where Henry stood, higher up on the path than Anna and I, was a dark shadow in the face of the wall. After letting my eyes study it in the darkness, I realized it was the opening to some kind of cave. Anna and I followed Henry towards the mouth of the cave.  

Again, I felt the unspoken aura of a part of the earth long untouched by humanity, while I knew logically that mass population was not far away. I easily imagined this place as it was thousands of years ago, still undiscovered by man, and building itself slowly and assuredly by the unconscious hand of nature.  

We reached the cave opening, and from the opening, it seemed to be a chamber about the size of an average bedroom. Anna was eager to borrow the small penlight her father carried on him and survey the small room. Just as Henry and I were contemplating spending the night in this sandy opening, Anna exclaimed that she had discovered another chamber, and our eyes followed her flashlight beam towards the back of the cave. 

 A small tunnel seemed to lead deeper into the cliff face. I felt a small pang of caution, but Henry and Anna were already on their knees, shining the light into the narrow tunnel and guessing as to how far the tunnel led. Before I knew it, I was behind them, on my hands and knees, following them into a sandy passageway that led further into the land that the ocean had not reached yet.  

To me, it seemed forever that we were crawling in the tunnel. I didn't feel fear, more so I felt exhaustion, as my body was not used to being in the position I was currently in. Anna was still excited, chattering and cooing at every turn of the tunnel, and Henry, ahead of Anna, was calling out that he believed we were reaching another opening.  

I heard Henry yawn, although I was several feet behind him, following the small circle of light projected by the flashlight he was holding. I knew he had stopped to wait for me to get close enough to discuss the plans from here on out, as he had incorrectly guessed that we had reached another passageway. 

 By this point, we had crawled several hundred yards into the cliff face via the passageway. We had our young, enthusiastic daughter along with us, and we had deliberately taught her the value of adventure and the respect that must be given to nature. We decided to huddle as a family in the tunnel. We had fresh water in my backpack, a flashlight with extra batteries, and no reason to believe we were in any danger. Henry and I created a cushioned wall within the tunnel, both of us reaching an arm over Anna, who crawled into the middle of us, as Henry began to spin another tale of pirates and deserted islands and gold. Before the story was over, Anna's breath became rhythmic and deep, indicating that she was fast asleep. My eyes felt heavy, and I was unbelievably comfortable, in the dry, sandy floor of the tunnel that molded to my body. After whispering a few sweet nothings to my husband, I drifted off to a deep sleep.  

My eyes fluttered, and sunlight poured into my pupils. My arm was underneath Anna's head, and as I began to move it, she awoke as well. Henry was already alert, his brown eyes sparkling in the morning sun. I suddenly realized that we should not be seeing sunlight this deep into the tunnel unless we had been closer to another exit that I had thought. However, Henry was facing the direction we had come from.  

I began to move towards the sunlight, which was warm and inviting as well as blinding, and Anna's small hand sought mine as we came towards an opening that I was sure was much too close considering how long we had crawled the previous evening.  

As we reached a ledge outside of the opening of the tunnel, I realized that we had not come through the bedroom sized chamber that we had discovered last night. I instantly surmised that we must have taken a different, previously unseen route through the passage system, and had come out at a different location that which we entered.  

My suspicions were confirmed as soon as I exited the small tunnel and stood upright on the outcropping just outside the small opening we had just been inside. Anna and Henry were already standing there, Anna smiling, and Henry looking confused. I didn't understand his emotion until I let my eyes take in the immeasurable scene before me. 

The green ocean that we had followed the previous day was now a clean dark blue. The waves were much more violent than the tranquil movement of the sea that we had followed. The beach was much narrower, the sand was rocky and darker colored, and the cliffs, in which our little tunnel was embedded, were taller and much rougher on their face than I remembered from just a few hours ago. I was confused and disoriented, but not frightened. I sought answers in Henry. 

 However, Henry seemed as dumbfounded as I was. I could see that he was mentally trying to pinpoint our position in comparison to where we had entered the rock face last night. He was not successful. Although we both had carried cell phones, neither of them had any kind of signal. This was not surprising, as we were experiencing the same thing since we entered the beach yesterday morning. 

We remained quiet, both Henry and I trying to locate some kind of reasoning within the immense difference between where we had trekked last night and where we had ended up now. Suddenly, as if to purposely distract both of us from our silent conversation, a splashing sound occurred far below us, where the blue water was lashing against the dark sand.  

Time stood still as the three members of my family watched intently the action that was unfolding several yards below us. It was unclear at first, but it soon became evident that there were creatures trying to emerge from the waves below onto the sandy shore just below us. Anna was the first to discern just how many individuals we were watching, as she turned to us and held up 3 small fingers, her eyes wide and excited.  

Henry began to move down the sandy path towards the shore, and Anna and I followed him without caution. I don't recall feeling any apprehension at this point, and to this day, this is a point that Henry and I often reminisce about.  

We reached the midpoint between where we had emerged from the tunnel to the beach below, and I was fully expecting to be able to explain to Anna how whales sometimes became beached. I was only trying to determine what type of what was emerging from the water when I realized that these creatures were much smaller than any type of whale I was familiar with, and had limbs that resembles our much more so than any sea creature I knew of. 

 Gray blue tinted arms became visible, scratching at the sand, pulling the bodies behind them further out of the churning water. I froze, grasping Anna's shoulder as I realized what it was that I was seeing. 

Humanoid figures, at least with a round head and two long arms were coming out of the water, gasping and choking and struggling to take in oxygen. From so many feet away, I would have thought that details would be limited, but I was able to notice that the figures were almost devoid of pigment, their pale skin shimmering in a silvery blue sheen as the beads of salt water ran off of their limbs.  

As we watched, the three figures clawed their way onto the sand, two larger ones who were also struggling to pull a weaker, smaller one to the shore. As if suddenly aware that they were being watched, the largest of the three looked up towards my family of three. I was instantly aware that the figure looking at me was a male, the paternal figure in the threesome we were witnessing. Without knowing why, I snapped my head towards Henry, who was maintaining eye contact with the struggling being, seemingly creating a bond I was not able to. The creature’s eyes were large and black, almost insect like. It made sense to me, that a marine creature would have to have large black eyes in order to be able to see well under water, but as soon as that thought entered my mind, recognition slowly occurred.  

These gray beings with large black eyes were permanently branded into my memory by countless alien movies. Short-statured, spindly humanoids with large black eyes, small mouths, and nothing but nostrils to breath with had been portrayed as alien enemies for as long as I could remember. However, these creatures, struggling to emerge from the amniotic ocean did not seem menacing, and again, there was no fear associated with what I was seeing. If anything, I was filled with a sense of being witness to something ancient and unknown, and I kept my grip on Anna's shoulder, but only for grounding her and me, since I had no reason to feel protective. 

 As the three gray figures dragged themselves up onto the grainy sand, the smaller one seemed to have a renewed sense of energy. Her movements seemed to portray a sense of femininity, and I instantly understood that she was the daughter of the two larger creatures. She moved upwards, in between the two others, who were lying prone in the sand, heaving as though exhausted, and the smaller female placed her small hands on each of them, one at a time.  

Henry moved closer towards them, we were closing in on mere yards of them when the larger ones began to speed up their panting, and a sorrowful moan erupted from first the male one, then the female, as they struggles to life their heads to look at us. As soon as eye contact was made between myself and the larger female, I suddenly had a sense of urgency, as if I should leave immediately. It wasn't fear, but an idea that peace would be found elsewhere if I were to leave this instant. However, I was motionless, unable to move. Henry was locked in a stare with the male figure, and seemed to be feeling some sort of unbearable sadness that emitted itself onto me as well. Even Anna let out a small moan of mourning, a sound I had never heard her make, and she shrank backwards into the safer place between Henry and me.  

Suddenly, Henry was moving back up the cliff face. The two larger beings were still looking towards us, their large black eyes as meaningful as anything I have ever seen in my life. They seemed to be pleading as well as warning, as we backed our way towards the tunnel opening we came from.  

Once we were what I would consider a safe distance away, the female finally let her weakness overcome her, and her head fell down, face first into the sand, and I watched in horror as her body quit heaving in difficult breaths into the permanent stillness of a corpse. Soon after, the male succumbed to the difficulty of drawing air through sea-breathing organs. He was still as well.  

The only one that continued to move was the smaller female. The daughter. She lifted her head back and sang a high pitched mournful melody that will haunt me as long as I live. Anna shivered and Henry took a step forward as if to protect Anna and I, although I still felt no fear.  

The small gray figure lifted her large black eyes to us and I felt an unarguable sense of pleading. She was asking us for help. I could barely control the maternal instincts that tore at me, begging me to save the child below. I started forward, with Anna directly behind me and Henry taking up the rear.  

The beings eyes stayed on me, liquid and swirling, as I left the rocky path and took my first step onto the sand. Suddenly she threw her head back again and wailed, the same mournful sound captivating me and freezing me in the spot I was in. As she lie on her belly, her long gray legs still being lapped at by the blue waves, her head lowered and she labored to breath as her parents had not long ago.  

I took a step towards her, and watched her chest heave harder. I suddenly had the inclination that something I was doing was making it harder for her to breathe, and I stepped backwards quickly. As I did, she was able to lift her head again and take a long deep inhalation of the salty air.  

I took another step back and pushed Anna and Henry back as I did. The female being pushed herself up onto her arms, a renewed strength allowing her to move as she couldn't just a moment ago. She crawled past her motionless parents, and her black eyes stayed on me as she pushed forward towards us.  

In a sudden burst of realization, I started moving backwards at a faster pace. For unknown reasons, I had instantly learned that we were watching some primordial process, the beginnings of humanity itself, emerging from the warm, safe arms of the ocean, struggling to survive on the unknown and pitiless shore. I felt an almost tangible sense of extraordinary chance for myself and for Anna and Henry. Any supernatural force that had allowed us to somehow witness the actual beginnings of the evolution of all mankind was verily thanked in my head, and at that moment I thought that of course, these first creatures that ventured from the overpopulated ocean in order to further its species as whole, of course they would be familiar grey beings. No wonder modern man had a primal memory of them, they were our ancestors from a time so long ago that we couldn't place them. But they were us.  

The female child was able to gain enough strength to stand on her two feet. She was wobbly and unstable, her legs had never been used for anything other than swimming. But she soon gained her footing, and took a step forward, raising her eyes back towards us.  

Her face portrayed a sense of begging. She seemed to be silently screaming for me to help her, but I knew that I could not. The closer I came to her, the worse she struggled for survival. I continued to back my family up the sandy path and towards the passageway in which we had spent the night. Henry seemed to understand my silent direction, although he trembled with an obvious sense of almost unbearable sadness. He saw himself in the male creature, and was nearly overcome with the idea of the father figure being unable to survive in order to save his family. I knew he could not look at the child, as he saw Anna in her place.  

However, the gray child was gaining an astonishing control over her limbs, and was climbing, half walking, half crawling, towards us. She was coming faster than we were backing up. The closer she came, the harder it was for her to breathe, and I knew it was our fault, no matter how much I wished it wasn't so. Even Anna could sense it, and was moving backwards faster, taking her eyes off of the gray child and turning her head behind her so she could move faster away. She wasn't afraid for herself, she was afraid for the young being who didn't seem to understand that while we wouldn't intentionally harm her, our unwilling attachment to the destructive nature of modern humanity was damaging to her plight.  

Henry startled, and I followed his gaze to another spot further down the beach where I realized another several pairs of translucent gray arms were fighting to pull their bodies to the shore. Another family, a few more members this time, was following in almost the same process as what we had already seen. Several other groups appeared up and down the beach, seeming to reenact the same scene over again. The older, larger members of the family fought to drag the younger ones to the shore, and as soon as the older ones felt secure that the younger ones were clear of the ocean, they peacefully gave up their fight to survive, and lay still on the sand. The younger ones gained strength somehow, caressing their parents with their drying arms, saying goodbye as they moved past them further from the ocean and closer to the cliff faces that my family clung to, trying to stall before we had to duck and move forward into the passageway.  

We all knew, Henry, Anna, and I, that for reasons unknown, we could not make contact with these now beautiful creatures in any other way but with our eyes, as we would somehow make it nearly impossible for them to survive. It seemed to me that it was merely because of our knowledge, that these innocent beings could pick up our emotions and memories, and the closer they got to us, the more they learned of war, sickness, famine, neglect, religion, and a myriad of other petty subjects that consume contemporary sentient beings when we so easily had forgotten our struggling beginnings and pointed our goals towards the future. These beings were not equipped, as we were with thousands of years of conditioning, for any other ideologies besides love, survival, and helping each other. That is why the small female who was moving even more quickly towards us did not seem to understand why we were backing away.  

I tried to portray it to her; the idea that we were unintentionally bad for her, that we would somehow impede the struggle she was enduring in order to carry her species forth. I urged her mentally to turn back towards the beach, where several other young gray beings were just now standing. Those were her kind, the ones that she would need to rely on for survival and reproduction. However, she continued to move beckoningly towards us.  

Suddenly, Anna grabbed my arm. We were inside the passageway, and it looked as though the young female being was going to follow us inside. The closer she got to us, the paler her ethereal face became, and I shuddered as she began to wheeze for oxygen where she had just been breathing as easily as I was. Henry reached up and scraped the inside of the tunnel, and I watched as a stream of sand fell in front of me, obscuring my view of the being. I immediately realized what needed to be done.  

Anna, Henry, and I frantically started scraping, banging, and scratching on the edges of the passageway. A wall slowly was being built, and although the gray child seemed confused, she didn't try to undo the barrier we were building. She stood there, gasping for breath, as the other beings from the beach began to climb up behind her.  

Soon enough, we had almost closed the opening of the tunnel; there was almost no way to see through it unless I strained to look through the very top of the barrier we had built. I did, and an immense sadness filled me immediately. The female was looking directly into my eyes. Her emotions were as clear to me as anything I have ever felt before. She was asking why. She felt that we alone were the key to saving her, but now that we were deserting her, she was forced to turn back to the other young gray beings standing behind her. There were no tears in her eyes, but I felt the sorrow and fear and disappointment as I watched her through the narrow strip in the sand and rock wall we were anxiously building between us and her, and I saw her turn away and step towards the others like her. She was able to take a long, deep breath, and the last few inches of visibility were filled in by Anna and Henry as I was immobilized by a profound emptiness. I knew the gray child would be the first mother of these beings to give birth on land, and I knew that regardless of what timeline we had been allowed to view, or what alternative dimension we had inadvertently stumbled upon, this was something that had never been witnessed by anyone alive today, and would never be witnessed again.  

The passageway became dark, and although I was fighting stinging tears, my eyes soon adjusted to the darkness. Henry was already moving in the opposite direction in the tunnel, Anna tight on his heels. I followed behind, finding solace in the fact that I still had them both, Henry whom I loved more than any man I had ever known, and Anna, my self-claimed masterpiece and reason for waking every morning. Those renewed realizations soon erased the sadness I felt at not being able to share the experience we had just had with anyone else, as well as knowing that no one would ever understand or believe us if we told them, and I peacefully followed Henry and Anna towards a pinpoint of light.  

We emerged on a beach of white sand, the green waves lapping gently on the low shore. Anna skipped ahead, her blond hair flying behind her and her blue eyes shimmering with even more innocence than I had ever imagined before. The pink neon lights of the motel were within a few moments walking distance, and Henry and I knew that it was impossibly close, but we also knew that most of what we had just experienced was impossible.  

We shortened our trip and headed home. We were happy and peaceful on our way, and even once we arrived at our house, Anna spoke often of the gray girl who she claimed was her friend. Anna's experience with the gray beings had somehow taught her more naiveté, a desire to succumb to childish wonder instead of wanting to grow up before her time, and I was perfectly happy with that. Henry, although he rarely spoke of the experience, was changed by it. He was more protective and demanding of himself as a father and husband. We both had a foreboding sense that although we had believed as a species for eons long forgotten that males were responsible for shelter, strength, and protection, they were, at one time, just as vulnerable as the female. This knowledge, although not shared with anyone outside of our family, was enough for him to feel an ominous sense of uselessness, although I never felt Henry was useless. This is a subject I am still not able to approach with him, because he feels that he received a sign of what should have been; that the females are the stronger of the species, that they are the ones who survived and moved forwards, using the males to increase their numbers, but having the intelligence and curiosity needed in order to move their species forward without them.  

For me, I tend to focus my memory of the experience on the magnificence of evolution as a sentient yearning. From single-cell organisms to the beautiful creatures we had seen making a revolutionary step towards our own familiar form, love and devotion had been the push forward that was needed to survive.  

I don't know why we witnessed what we did. I don't know how my family was chosen, if it was, to see something that our ancestors' ancestors had forgotten. I don't try to explain it. I have gleaned every piece of knowledge I can from it, and I watch my lovely daughter as she grows. She is different from others, which at first scared me. I worried for her. But I soon realized that she was just like the gray child that had followed us up the cliff path. The lesson she had learned had given her something that no one else on the entire planet was prepared to face. She was curious, unafraid, and more than willing to lead her kind into a new era.
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