I began to wake up and sat up with a start when I remembered I was at the beach with my older brother, Matt. Last thing I knew I had put sunblock on, had an argument with Matt, and laid down to sunbathe. Apparently I had fallen deeply asleep, although I had no idea for how long.
Thankfully I had put sunblock on and was only a little pink. Hopefully I could get a sun-kissed glow as people pale as me don’t usually tan well. I stuck my hand in my bag to find some cocoa butter and it was then I felt something wasn’t right.
The beach was dead silent except for some birds singing in the woods. Taking off my shades I started scanning the beach to see where Matt was and why everything had gone mute.
I sat up to get a better look, realizing the beach was a ghost town and my brother was nowhere in sight. He may be a jerk, but he was my older brother so he would never disappear, leaving me somewhere by myself.
OK, don’t panic I am sure he is around here somewhere, I thought to myself. I stood up and went down to the shoreline so I could see further down the beach on either end. Where could he be? Turning to face the sand I could see there was no one on the beach. I was completely alone and Matt was nowhere to be found. Walking towards the concession stand I could see it was empty and there was nobody to ask about Matt.
I could feel my stress level rising as the realization hit home that I was truly solo. Don’t get me wrong, I love a quiet beach, but this was unsettling. I sat down on my beach blanket and found my cell phone, but as his cell began to ring from the pocket of his shorts I knew that was useless.
Hanging up, I didn’t know what to do next. Maybe I was too hot and not thinking clearly so I went to the water. The cold was jarring, but it was actually warmer than normal due to the high heat. Wading in until I was waist deep, I slid my body under the water slowly.
That’s when I saw him. My brother was swimming towards me from the ocean deep. What was this all about? How could he even swim so deep underwater with no breathing assistance? I stood up so I could watch him swim up from below. Finally reaching the surface, he seemingly shot his body out of the water launching at me to grab my arms. “You will never believe where I have just been. I am so glad you saw me swimming so deep under the water because I know you will never believe this otherwise.”
Following him back up the beach, we both found towels and began to dry off. “Ok, so out with it, where have you been and what have you been doing that is so unbelievable?” I asked, wrapping myself in a towel and waiting impatiently for him to spill.
“Sis, I need you to promise you won’t tell anyone about this because they are probably going to think I am crazy.” Looking up from his seated position, he stopped to get my vow before beginning his story. Nodding, I waved him on to tell me this grand story.
“OK, so while you were sleeping there was a shark spotting just out past those buoys.” Matt was pointing to a far point a few miles from the shoreline. “You know how everyone gets, so people were out of the water and leaving the beach faster than they could pack. I came to tell you, but found you asleep so I made the decision to swim anyway. It wasn’t like the shark was coming inland from what I could see.” Pausing, he took a swig of water to clear his throat and continued with his tale.
“All was fine until, with my snorkel on, I could see something move off to my left side. Rotating to face the movement all I saw was a tail swish by about 10 feet from me. I’m not going to lie, I did freak a little, but that feeling didn’t last long. I don’t know why, but I didn’t seem to be afraid and found myself treading water watching this shark slowly come towards me.”
“You, what! Are you insane? How are you still alive? Wait, until I tell Mom, she is going to kill you for being so careless.” I was now standing over him shaking my finger; so angry I could spit. He quickly began to wave his hands, “Stop, stop. Please let me finish. OK?”
Rolling my eyes, I sat on my blanket, motioning once again for him to continue.
“So, as I said, I was watching this shark swim towards me, but for some reason I felt super calm. It came within a foot of me and began to swim around me almost as if checking to see if I was a threat, a meal, or an ally. I kept swimming in place and put one of my arms out under the water. The shark swam under my arm seeming to want me to pet it. I left my arm where it was and the shark kept coming back to swim under my hand. As if that wasn’t cool enough I swear it was talking to me. I could hear it inside my head.”
I got up quickly and began to pack my bag. “You really think I am stupid and gullible don’t you? Well, I am not and I am not going to sit here while you make fun of me by telling me this idiotic story you obviously made up.”
Reaching over, Matt grabbed my arm, “Please, I am not lying. Please listen. You said you would.” He let go as I sat back down again and gave him my attention.
“Ok, so I heard this voice in my head and the shark told me his name was Japa. He ran away from home and was seeking new friends.
In my head, I thought my name is Matt. Sorry you ran away, but I am glad to meet you. We can be friends as I’m certain we share mutual love for the ocean. I’ve spent my entire life on the coast and began swimming before I could walk.
Japa was very happy he found me as I wasn’t afraid of him and also had a strong love of the ocean. He asked me if I wanted to swim with him in the deep so we could enjoy the ocean together. You know me, I was all in, but I had to explain how humans can’t swim underwater like sharks and need to have access to air.”
Matt took another drink and said, “You can imagine this didn’t work for what he had in mind so he told me if I rubbed his skin and then slid my hand down my nose and mouth I would be able to breath underwater temporarily. I don’t understand how it works, but I was more than willing to try and I am so glad I did. I had one of the most amazing days of my life.”
“Well, where did you go? What did y’all do together? Now you have my attention and I can’t wait to hear what you have gotten into today,” I said while grabbing our lunch out of the cooler and setting it out for us to enjoy.
“Oh My God! I forgot you made us a lunch. I am starving,” Matt said as he was reaching over to grab a sandwich and a peach. “Sis, I don’t even know where to start. Japa took me down to the bottom of the ocean and I got to meet many of his friends. Did you know that mermaids are real? I met three of them and they were so beautiful. I can see why pirates were so drawn to them back in the day. They really do have some of the most amazing voices I have ever heard.”
“Underwater they all speak to each other through telepathy. It was surprising to them I was already communicating with Japa telepathically and was having no issue keeping up with the conversations. They really are just like us. They just live under water and we live here.”
Taking a bite of his sandwich, Matt began chewing and took a big swig of water before continuing. “I even met a Snapping turtle by the name of Fred who is so old he doesn’t even snap anymore.” Matt started to chuckle and then said, “He was super nice and only uses his mouth to cut Mermaid hair. He is their hairdresser! How crazy is that?”
My jaw fell open as I was listening, “I have to say that certainly is unusual, but at least he was nice. We have come across so many nasty Snapping turtles it must be nice to finally meet one who doesn’t want to relieve you of a toe or two.” I began to laugh and Matt began smiling in realization that my mood was calmer and I wasn’t going to rip his head off for disappearing.
“It really is amazing down in the deep of the ocean, Sis. I wish you could’ve gone with me. I know you would enjoy it, but I am happy to say the offer is still on the table as I am coming back tomorrow to swim with Japa and his friends again. Do you think you would want to go with us? Or are you too afraid?” Leaning his head to the side he was staring at me trying to figure out if he could gauge my answer.
“I don’t know whether I want to go or not, but the offer is truly intriguing. I think I have to sleep on it, but I think I might just take you up on this. I mean this is one of those once in a lifetime type of experiences. Besides I want to hang out with some Mermaids too!”
I was looking at him excitedly and he began to giggle again. Nodding, Matt said, “I thought you might want to go, but I wasn’t sure. I am so glad you believe me and want to go on this adventure with me.” He happily shoved the rest of the sandwich in his mouth with a huge smile on his face.
“But you know,” I said, “You are going to have to tell Mom something. What are you going to do? You already know we can’t lie to her; she always knows when we’re not telling the truth. How are you going to pull this off?”
Hearing this he froze, eyes getting big. Swallowing hard, he said, “Oh No! I hadn’t even thought about Mom or telling her anything. What are we going to do?”
“We? WE aren’t doing anything. I fell asleep here. You’re the one who has to tell Mom why we didn’t go home after the shark sighting. You already know she knows. It’s not like we live in a huge town. How are you going to explain why you didn’t wake me up and what you were doing that kept you from waking me up so we could leave sooner? You know how Mom gets when it comes to being reckless as well as lying.” I gave him a look of concern and I could see him turn green.
I knew he had no idea how he was going to spin this story so Mom didn’t ask more questions or dig deeper.
Now this was going to be worth the price of admission!