An Unforgettable Day At The Beach

Mom said we could go to Tramore beach for a picnic. I jumped up and down. I loved the beach – even though I couldn’t swim. What more could a seven year old ask for? Mom asked me to butter some bread. I couldn’t wait to get there, so I eagerly agreed to help. We were having luncheon meat sandwiches, and banana sandwiches for afters. What a treat.
Eventually we all piled into the car – myself, my two older sisters, Maria and Colette, and my older brother, Tony. It was a half hour drive, and everyone was in good form. Maybe that was why I never saw it coming.
At the beach, Mom pushed the blanket into my arms and instructed me to find a spot for our picnic. She might have sent me ahead because I was the most impatient and I probably did her head in with all my questions being ‘Are you ready yet? Can we go to the sand now?’ And so on. When everyone was finally at the blanket, mom told us to undress and go for a swim or a paddle in the water before we ate. That suited me fine. We all had our swimsuits on under our clothes and our underwear was in a plastic bag. As soon as we were ready for the water, we all lined up at the edge of the blanket and mom said, ‘Are ye ready? Set? (Long pause here)……GO!!!!!’ We raced from the edge of the blanket to the edge of the sea. ‘Last one in is a cissy,’ I shouted. We laughed and screamed. Maria and Tony were well able to swim. I watched them dive into the waves and rise out of the water with a smile. Colette and I on the other hand preferred to stay closer to the water’s edge to run around and play and splash each other. But this day, we were feeling a bit brave and so we waded out as far as the tops of our thighs. We thought we were being courageous. I liked to mess about and so I began to splash my sister. She splashed me back and ran towards the shore. I ran after her laughing, and tripped on a hidden rock beneath the water. But I steadied myself in time, my heart pounding. When we got to where the water was just above our knees we relaxed again and started splashing each other. I kicked water at her, but my foot sank in the sand and I fell backwards into the water. I tried to stand up but couldn’t. My sister stood near me. I tried to grab her, but my hand only grabbed air. With panic rising, I waved at her in the hope she’d grab my hand and pull me up. But she only waved back at me. I couldn’t believe it. My air was running out. Somehow I managed to turn myself on to my belly and get onto my feet. I turned on her. ‘Why didn’t you help me? I nearly drowned and all you did was wave at me.’ ‘I thought you were messing,’ she said. I was mad at her for a while but forgave her quickly. It wasn’t her fault. I was a messer after all. Somehow, going to the beach wasn’t as much fun after that. I was more wary of water now. I believe that was the day I learned to fear water. Fourteen years later I finally learned how to swim properly and enjoy swimming like never before.