This was written for submission to the Flash Fiction group's April 2011 contest dealing with phobias. It is my first ever attempt at creative / fiction writing.
Up and down … down and up. The motion was almost trancelike. The bobbing movement of the kayak, combined with the beauty of the Sea of Cortez all around me was hypnotizing. However, not to be forgotten was the thought that at any moment, this beauty could swallow me whole. It should be such a relaxing experience except for the fact that I was sitting atop the most powerful force in nature. Capable of destroying towns and yet polite enough to propel surfers, the ocean was a true dichotomy.
Up and down … down and up. “Dude, start paddling!” exclaimed Jessie. Jessie was not the ideal travel companion. He was great to travel with, just not great to be seen next to. He was good looking, fun, and self-confident. Paddling the kayak without his shirt always caught the attention of the ladies. I was basically the opposite. I wasn’t in bad shape; just not “Jessie” shape. I was too pail to take my shirt or hat off and had sunglasses and sunscreen hiding my face.
Jessie’s barking quickly snapped me out of the trance. “Now comes the hard part,” said Jessie. Looking towards the shore, I noticed that we were now a few hundred yards away.
“What do you mean, hard part?”
“The wind pushed us out and now we have to face it to get back. Now it’s time for our workout, start paddling”.
Circling all around us were sharks. What were they staring at? Are they real or am I delirious from the heat and workout? Could they sense my fear? Could they smell blood? All I can think about was getting back to shore before one of them attacked.
“Dude … you’ve got to paddle!” Jessie yelled.
Again coming out of my fear-induced daydream, we began paddling in a systematic rhythm towards the shore. The faster I got there, the better. After five minutes of paddling, it appeared that we were no closer to shore. Could it be we were farther than before we frantically started paddling in that direction? Muscle fatigue combined with the circling sharks induced fear and panic not ever felt. I could envision myself perishing right here either under force of the mighty ocean or one of numerous beasts swarming ever closer.
One shark got right next to us. As I prepared to whack it with my paddle, it began to speak in broken English.
“You need a ride … you need help?”
Now fully aware, I realized that the sharks were actually tourists and locals enjoying the very water I was agonizing over.
“Yes!” I said before Jessie had a chance to answer.
Five minutes and ten dollars later, we were safely on shore enjoying the beauty of the Sea of Cortez. I was not likely to do that again, but at least I could say I tried it.