The skies gleamed with crystal blue persuasion, beckoning me to the water’s edge. I stared in wonder as the seagulls frolicked and dipped into the sea. Wispy cirrus clouds floated by at a leisurely pace, and I longed to touch them. A slight breeze stirred, and the crash of the breakers called to me. I couldn’t have asked for a more picture perfect beach day.
This is exactly what my soul needed. The anxieties of life had worn me down, my nerves were frazzled and sleep eluded me. I was in search of peace. God knows I would have been content to just lie in the sand, toasting my skin to a golden brown. A rum flavored cocktail topped with an umbrella is all I really wanted. That, and perhaps a good book to immerse myself in.
But my friends were insistent. It would be the experience of a lifetime, they said. Life’s too short. Go big or go home. Don’t be a wuss…
So I swallowed my apprehension. I gave in to the pressure.
As I stepped tentatively onto the stern of the idling charter boat, my eyes were drawn to the name hand painted on its hull. The Whatchamacallit. Not a very reassuring name for a sea worthy vessel. The wind began to pick up, and the boat responded, bobbing back and forth beneath my Skechers. My heart beat furiously, and pit of my stomach burned. I wasn’t sure if this was excitement, fear… or a little of both.
The boat captain smiled broadly, thrust a life vest into my hands, then buckled me into a harness. I held on for dear life, gripping the leather straps. Returning to the midsection of the craft, he gunned the motor and ventured forward at a slow clip toward the western horizon. As the rushing wind gathered beneath the colorful parasail, it puffed up like a curtain blowing in the window. The tow rope grew longer, and my body was lifted like a balloon, high above the aqua sea.
The balmy breeze kissed my cheeks as I skimmed weightlessly across the fields of blue. My chest filled with euphoria, adrenaline pumped through my blood. I let out a squeal. So this is how it feels to be a bird! I reached out my hands to touch the soft cotton clouds, hopping from one to the next. The people on the beach below me looked like ants, and I waved to them from my perch.
Pure joy coursed through my veins. I was so lost in the delights of flying that I didn’t hear the snap. A sharp jolt, and suddenly I was adrift, scaling to new heights. Then as the parasail lost momentum, I plummeted feet first toward the sea. Terror seized my heart.
I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out. My body hit the surface with a loud slap, and plunged underwater violently. The impact rattled my bones, the sound shattering my eardrums. Dead silence. Everything faded to black before my wide open eyes.
Floating, the undercurrents pushed me down. A brilliant white light beckoned in the distance of the ocean depths. I swam toward it, my limbs gliding effortlessly beneath the frigid water. Never before had I held my breath this long. Oddly, my lungs now were one with the sea.
In time, I rose up beyond the confines of my watery grave to the sanctity of the cottony clouds. I watched as my loved ones built a memorial on the beach. Saw them wipe the tears away, then drive off to laughter-filled gatherings. But time marches on, and misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. They eventually stopped coming to pay tribute and moved on with their lives. They forgot about me.
But up here, I am never alone. At night, I am cocooned in the warm arms of the maternal clouds. When daybreak spills across the crystal blue skies, my heart soars. I ruffle my feathers, spread my wings and join in with the seagulls, dipping down toward the sea.
Peace, at last…
Colleen Keller Breuning © 2015
December 1, 2015