The Girl in the Sea - A Short Story by Neil K Spencer
It was cold, windy and raining but still Vincent was adamant on going for a walk. He was on a diet and felt the best exercise was exercise you enjoyed and he loved walking, especially down by the beach. It didn’t matter that the ice cold waves would be clawing against the sand like the hands of some gigantic iced beast.
For Vincent every day must contain a long walk to help burn off the fat and make the sufferable diet in which he missed out on his favourite foods like chips, bacon rolls, and best of all, delicious mixed meat kebabs from ‘Mr Shish,’ all be worth it. And for the most part, it was, Vincent had already lost just over a stone but having weighed himself that morning and seen he was still over fourteen stone he was determined to keep going.
His wife Linda on the other hand, although happy he was losing weight and had such enthusiasm to continue, felt that on a day such as this it was perhaps better to stay indoors and do some exercises in the lounge.
However, Vincent’s mind was made up and he continued to insist that the best exercise was the one we enjoyed. And so, despite her own opinion on the matter she reluctantly agreed to go with him, even though Vincent had said she didn’t need to go. She knew this but the truth was she also enjoyed walks along the beach, just not in the freezing cold rain.
As it turned out, by the time they reached the beach the rain had become nothing more than a drizzle, it was however still bitter cold and extremely windy. Linda pulled her red fleece tight with gloved hands as they headed down the small sandy hill that led to the beach below. She wore a woolly hat on her head in which she’d stuffed her hair in an attempt to stop the wind from blowing it into her face, unfortunately some had come loose, the blonde strands beating against her face as she tried in vain to stuff it back in.
Vincent on the other hand seemed oblivious to the wind, so strong that it almost pulled them down the hill and into the sea. He was visibly cold however as he too pulled his coat tighter but again he didn’t let it bother him as he almost marched down the hill like he was about to go into battle with some unseen enemy.
As to be expected the beach was empty but it was anything but quiet. With the strength of the wind the waves had come to life, furiously beating against the sand and then pulling it into the sea like some god-like hand. The beach itself was a plain open space except for the odd clutter of trees here and there. The trees themselves blew violently in the wind, bending in all directions, Linda feared that they would snap and then come hurtling towards them, forcing them into the icy sea.
‘Should we go?’ Linda called to Vincent, but, although close enough to hear on a normal day the loud whistling of the wind meant he was deaf to her words.
She ran to join his side.
‘Should we go?’ she repeated.
He heard her this time, ‘What? No! Don’t worry if we walk fast you’ll soon warm up.’
She didn’t want to leave because she was cold, it was the fact that with one wrong step the wind could force her into the deadly waves.
It was a long beach, about a mile in length but clear and Linda could see well into the distance and was certain they were the only ones brave enough or stupid enough to venture along it.
Suddenly Vincent began calling out. It took Linda a moment to work out what he was saying over the gales but then she realised he was staring into the sea.
‘Can you see that?’ He was shouting.
Linda followed his gaze, ‘What? I don’t see anything.’
‘There.’ He replied pointing in the direction of the ferocious waves.
Linda looked out but still saw nothing.
‘It’s a….’ Vincent’s voice trailed off.
Linda tried her best, she even took a step closer to the sea but still she could see nothing.
‘Oh my god!’ Vincent called out and then without warning he ran towards the waves.
At first Linda was certain he would stop short of the water and had merely ran for a closer look at what he was seeing but he didn’t stop. He kept running and then he was running no longer but swimming, swimming in the ice cold waters of an ocean gripped by a storm.
Linda screamed ‘VINCENT! Get out of the water! Get out!’
She found herself running as well. Sand kicked everywhere with each step, some filling her shoes, she could feel it rubbing between her toes. She stopped short of the water, unable to do anything as Vincent swam deeper into the sea struggling against the thrashing waves.
‘Vincent come back!’ Linda shouted, using the full force of her voice.
He appeared to stop for a moment, but he didn’t come back, he was gone, swallowed up by the raging sea. Linda almost choked on her fear and then after what seemed like forever Vincent reappeared. He splashed around for several seconds and then was gone again. He repeated the process of going under and then returning only to go under again for what seemed like forever and the he began to swim back to the shore. As he swam Linda felt a strange feeling, a mixture of anger and relief.
It took some time for Linda’s nerves to settle and then for the first time she could really see her husband and she noticed two things. Firstly he was now swimming on his back, continually turning his head so that he could see that he was still heading in the direction of the shore, and secondly she saw that he was dragging something with him but she couldn’t make out what.
As he tried to swim, the violent waves continually engulfed him, Linda’s heart sank every time he vanished under the turbulent waters and felt like falling to her knees whenever he reappeared. She resisted however and instead found herself entering the water, if only up to the laces of her hazel brown walking boots. However it was still deep enough for the sea water to get in, the chill stabbing at her feet like tiny ice daggers.
It wasn’t until Vincent was almost at the shore that Linda could finally see what he was bringing with him. At first it looked like a ball, she grew angry, ‘why the hell would he risk his life for a bloody ball?’ she thought to herself. It was then she noticed the hair, it was impossible to make out the colour but it was dark and long. Then she could make out the shape of a nose and a mouth, it was a person.
Once she knew it was a person, Linda was quick to call for an ambulance. Moments after she’d made the call Vincent finally reached the shore. As he staggered out of the water Linda could see that he was dragging a lifeless teenage girl onto the sand. As soon as they were both out of the water Vincent fell to his knees and began coughing violently, he spat several times between coughs in an attempt to rid himself of the salty taste of the sea.
The girl lay still on the sand, her long dark hair, matted and caked in dirt, strewn across her face. Her skin was pale and her body still. She was wearing a short skirt and black top, it looked as though she was dressed for a night on the town. Her legs were covered in a pair of torn dark tights but her shoes were gone, possibly lost in the sea.
‘Oh my god! Is she dead?’ Linda called out, panic returning to her voice.
For a moment Vincent just breathed, several deep breaths in and out, before he spoke,
‘I…I don’t…know…she was…she was awake…and splash…splashing…when I…I saw her.’ He could hardly speak and his words were blurred by the chattering of his teeth.
He shook himself, ‘Is…she…breathing?’
Linda, now also kneeling in the sand checked the girl for a pulse, but there was nothing.
Despite the cold that gripped his body, Vincent moved like lightning.
‘Did…you…call…an…ambulance?’ he demanded as he reached the girl.
‘Yes! They’re on their way.’
Vincent confirmed there was no pulse and so began C.P.R. After a time he checked again but still there was nothing, he looked aghast at Linda and started again.
Linda watched nervously, muttering to herself ‘Please! Please!’ but she knew Vincent had no training and was merely going off what he’d seen on television, he could have been doing more harm than good.
A second time Vincent stopped to check the girl but still there was nothing, a third, nothing. Then on his fourth attempt the girl suddenly began coughing and struggling, she was disorientated.
Linda leaned forward to assist, ‘there there, everything’s going to be alright, help’s on its way.’ She said softly as she took the girl’s hand.
Vincent tilted his head back, it seemed the adrenalin brought on by the sudden need to act had caused his body to warm itself up. He let out a sigh of relief as the mix of wind and droplets of icy sea water beat against his face, in the distance, the sound of a siren grew louder as the ambulance finally arrived.