The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop
I am quickly entering the sea. We are in Miramar, Argentina for our summer vacation. The beach is full of people sunbathing, young men playing soccer, children making sandcastles with canals at the shore, some people are swimming in the sea in front of me, to avoid the groynes.
I am 16 years old and I can see Popi, my 6 year-old sister, my youngest sister, in the sea. She is far out and the water is by her neck. It‘s a sunny day, hot, and the waves are the usual, a bit strong if you are not paying attention.
I feel that Popi is struggling to get out but I am not sure. I’m worried so I’ve decided to go in to check on her. I can feel my warm sunbathed belly getting cooler as the water goes up and up, covering my chest. I am wearing my first bikini ever (it has very subtle stripes of different colours, it’s small but not tiny); it makes me feel older, more responsible somehow… As I get closer, I understand that she is, in fact, afraid and trying to get out. She is bobbing up and down, trying to walk or jump back in my direction, “Ceci, I can’t get out!” She yells. “I am coming!” I yell back.
I am close to Popi now, and suddenly I realize that the tide here is very strong. Even though we are not very deep, the tide is pulling us out to sea and towards the rocks. I hold Popi’s hand tightly and we try to walk against the tide, toward the beach. But we are still getting closer to the rocks. I don’t understand what’s happening, why I cannot go where I want to, but my legs seem to move sideways, like a crab, Popi too, but it’s even harder for her. It’s like an underwater strength that pushes our legs and bodies to the right, instead of front. And no matter what we do, we cannot control it. It’s very strange because I can still walk. It’s not that deep but deep enough to push us against those rocks.
A man is entering the sea. He is not running, but he is certainly coming in our direction. He has a lot of muscles all over his body, and is wearing a small, tight bathing suit. He is blondish with curly hair, definitely not my type; he blows a whistle… then I realize that he is a lifeguard! I cannot believe he’s coming towards us; this cannot be happening. I am not a child and I know how to swim!!! I may not have a lot of experience swimming in deep waters but this is not deep at all… How is he going to help us? This is so embarrassing…
“We are OK, don’t worry!” I shout at him, “if we keep walking against the tide, we’ll be able to make it eventually…” I’m thinking out loud. But he doesn’t seem to hear me or care about what I am saying; he keeps advancing in our direction, doesn’t even bother to answer. In fact, I do realize that I can’t do this on my own. The lifeguard reaches us in no time and grabs our hands. He has some sort of “superpower” that helps us get back to the beach, as if the tide wasn’t so strong anymore, as if he has created a protective bubble all around us. Now that we are close to the beach, we don’t need him anymore—but he won’t release our hands! Popi doesn’t seem to mind this at all. She looks tired. My hand feels locked in his. The water is around our knees now and we can walk by ourselves but he still holds our hands! As if he’s doing it on purpose, or showing off his bait!
Everyone at the beach has been watching the scene, from the moment the lifeguard entered the water. There is not a lot of action at the beach except for these moments… Many times I have been a spectator myself, but I never thought I would have to be rescued one day.
Our dad and my step-mother run towards us, leaving behind the huge semicircle of strangers around the beach—the strangers are clapping their hands, the usual after a rescue. My hair is wet and cannot easily cover my lowered red face. Yes, I am sunburned but this redness covers my whole head… I feel goosebumps in the rest of the body as a soft wind blows by.
This is one of the most embarrassing moments in my life until now. Little do I know there will be many more.