The smiling parents turn their back, both at the same time, for just a
second to look at the high school boy who caught the Frisbee at the
very last moment and rolled over like a stuntman on the sand. That’s
when the toddler’s little legs get pulled under and I see it.
There’s a soundtrack playing in my head when it happens and it happens
this way all the time. Sun skitter, dogs, kites, laughter. Slow motion
pink pale splashing and the wave washing away from shore. It’s a
disease, this jolt I’ve grown close to and the wonderfully deep
screaming that looses inside.
LOOK NOW! HELP! PLEASE! Someone tell them. I can feel my mouth
opening. I’m about to…but the wave really only came calf high and she
runs giddy-scream backwards and mom and dad, still smiling, hold her
tightly, not knowing what I know, that someday, it will come to her,
in a place they know well and I won’t be there to make it not happen.
It could be a canoe, the one they will leave at the edge of their
pond, the rope swing, a rifle on the wall, an unlocked door or the
drunk man in the Buick down the street. Let me tear out my eyes,
beautiful girl, and place them where I know that you’ll need them,
like I should have know for my own little boy, who like you, was
staring straight ahead and couldn’t have seen anything other than
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