a day at the beach with dear friends & young children...gathering shells & exploring tidal pools along the gentle surf...
near the jetty one finds the best of shells, & thus the two young girls, dreaming of swirly conch shells in perfect pink wade in the chilled October sea up to their ankles. nearby the two mommas walk contentedly among their other younger children. everyone seems lost in their own sea-inspired thoughts...lulled by the gentle waves rolling onto the sand.
in a moment, the very moment that makes a mother's heart lurch, her head snap to attention, one momma sees the plight of the two girls...their cries for help drifting seaward. she hears no sound but knows the screams of danger with the ears of her heart.
her own screams for help begin to pierce the calm & she frantically runs for the water along the jetty...each step of her own equals the distance the current is carrying those two dear ones out to sea. in spite of her fear she thinks to send one of her little ones for the other momma, also out of range of those awful screams. she is all the while shedding her shoes, her sweater, those very things that will weigh her dangerously down in the surf. she continues her cries for help.
the water is colder than expected, from a shift in weather the previous night, but she does not feel that as she wades toward those precious girls, now clinging to the rocks at the sea-end of the jetty. at the moment when the sea level reaches her waist, a terrible current sweeps her forward & her feet no longer feel the sand below.
she is closer but her progress is hampered by the changing currents, her water-logged clothes...she is begging & pleading with the girls to hold onto those rocks at all costs.
she is praying for help.
she has no time to consider what is behind her & fears that the wind is taking her voice out to sea...leaving her alone in the rescue.
in a breath all is suddenly calm..she turns ever so slightly to her right & in a flash a strong, competent swimmer races past her & reaches the closest girl, who has just lost her hold on the rock. with barely a passage of time, he hands the frightened one back to her mother...she had regained her footing on the sand when he passed...
in another breath he has reached the other one, still clinging to the end rock of the jetty & coaxes her into his arms.
as the momma and her daughter trod back to the shore, both see the other momma running frantically toward them, her screams amplified by the sea wind. they all meet - daughters, mommas, other children, & rescuer - at the very edge of sea & sand... all holding on tightly in a circle of love, with tears of relief for the rescue.
as they finally break the embrace to thank this one who had certainly saved some lives that day, all turn in the direction the rescuer had taken out of the circle...
all they see is the setting sun, the pristine sand - no man to be found.