I remember that summer when the entire family from my father’s side spent a few days together on the beach. I was five years old, and it was the first time my toes met the sand. I danced under the sun in my blue bathing suit and pink goggles.
I watched as my older cousins built sand castles, and tried to build my own, only it was too close to the waves and was washed away. I tried to make another one but my cousins decided to play another game. They covered my body with sand until it was too heavy and itchy that I cried.
Afraid that my mom would hear me crying, they removed the sand from my body and ran into the waves to swim. I sat and watched them, wishing I could swim too.
“C’mon J, let’s swim,” my father said as he brushed the sand off my hair.
“I don’t know how to,” I said.
“I know, now stand up so I can teach you.”
I stood and let him hold my hand and lead me to the waters.
It was surprising that the water was cold when the sand was warm. We walked deeper into the sea, and it was when the water reached my chest that I panicked.
“Relax J, imagine you’re just taking a bath with your rubber duckies,” he told me, and sat until we’re eye to eye.
“Now try to lift your legs and float on your stomach,” he instructed. “Don’t worry, Papa’s arms will hold you.”
I obeyed and tried to jump and land face down as I saw my cousins do. “Oops, careful,” he said as his arms caught me.
“Lift your chin, don’t swallow any saltwater, okay?”
“Now practice kicking your legs,” I followed and smiled at the sound of water against my feet. “Straighten your legs, J, and point your toes out. That’s it. You’re doing well.”
I grinned. Piece of cake.
“Now try to move your arms, as if they’re your wings and you’re a beautiful butterfly.”
I did as told, and felt my body move against the water. I’m swimming!
“Great, J! Now, keep swimming, eyes always forward, chin always up.”
So I kept kicking my legs and moving my arms, until I felt something was missing. Dad’s not holding me anymore.
I stopped moving my legs in panic and tried to look back. I could not find him and I started to sink. “Papa–” I tried to shout, but saltwater entered my mouth and I could not breathe properly.
Then I felt his strong arms pull me up.
“It’s alright J, I’m here. I got you.”
A response to Daily Prompt: Exhale