(This is the third piece of the section and isn’t as dark but is more sombre and sad in nature)
I am walking down the shoreline of the beach, barefoot, and I can feel each grain of sand shift beneath my feet. The water recedes and comes back towards the beach, grabbing a crab or two unawares, and draws them back into the vast body of water. I hear the children squeal with delight as they tiptoe into the freezing water. I wander too close to the water and the ice-cold liquid licks my feet. A severe shiver runs down my spine and I am taken back ten years.
The squeals of the children I hear turn into screams of horror as I recall splashing in the water helplessly in an attempt to save my drowning cousin.
I was nine years old. My aunt was living at our house as my cousins had their vacations. They had wanted to go to the beach because they had never been to a beach before. We were all very excited as we had planned out a day filled with fun activities. It was going to be the best day of our lives. What we didn’t know was that this day would turn out to be the exact opposite: the worst.
Unaware of the tragedy that lay ahead, my three cousins, my father, my aunt and I climbed into the car and headed for the beach.
The car had barely stopped in the parking lot that my three cousins and I jumped out of the car, racing each other to the water. Right before stepping into the water, we looked at each other, gave big smiles and jumped in. The water made us shiver and we squealed like the children I now saw before me. We splashed around and swam in circles near the shore. One of my cousins, who was the eldest out of the three, and two years older to me, in an attempt to be daring, said that he could swim out farthest from the shore and that we couldn’t. At first, we all thought he was joking as we had been warned at home to not swim too far out to sea. Seeing his face though, we realized he was serious and a feeling of dread passed through me. We tried to talk him out of it and reminded him of the warnings we were given at home but he called us “chickens: and started swimming away.
We began calling out to him to come back, but he didn’t heed our pleas and swam on, and our voices rose, full of fear. My father saw my cousin and called out to him from the shore but my cousin, being further out than we were, was unaware of my father’s calls, as we had barely heard him. My father, therefore, waded into the water and began swimming towards my cousin, who was, by now, quite a far way off.
My father had just crossed us when suddenly my cousin’s head went underwater. I held my breath and waited for him to resurface. After a few seconds he did, but he was screaming and calling out for help. I still remember the horrific expression on his face as he struggled helplessly. I remember the faint screams of my aunt from the beach shore.
My father shouted out unintelligibly and swam faster as I splashed in the water, trying to swim towards my cousin too. And before my father reached my cousin, he went underwater, resurfaced, screamed and disappeared. My father stopped, and with renewed energy, started swimming towards the area where my cousin had disappeared. We had stopped splashing, I was too shocked to move and my cousins were crying. I remember two men coming and taking my wailing cousins and myself out of the water as my father went down into the water and resurfaced quite a few times, in an attempt to look for any sign of my cousin.
Us children, we sat on the beach quietly, too tired to cry anymore, as people gathered about and a few swam in to help my father with the search. It seemed as though it had been hours since we had been pulled out of the water before my father walked out of the water with a resigned expression on his face. His face was wet from the water and the tears and my aunt was weeping silently. My dad picked me up in his arms as I clung to him, grabbed my aunt’s hand, told the children to lead the way to the car and drove home silently.
I try to recall what happened once we got home but I cannot remember. All of it seems to be a blur. A memory, mostly erased, leaving behind the most hideous portion.
Now, I feel the cool breeze against my skin as a tear trickles down my cheek. I look towards the setting sun and think that it is the end of yet another day without my cousin. Ten years and I still haven’t forgotten him and the day he was taken away from me, us, my aunt, my family. To this day, his disappearance remains a mystery. As the pain becomes too great to bear, I turn my back towards the water, close my eyes, say a little prayer and walk away.