Is the sea a dark, terrifying force? Or is his fear unwarranted? The narrator wonders during a family vacation
Golden sunrays flowed through the open window of my train. My anticipation burned as hard as the surface of the sun. My ears were suddenly assaulted by the screeching of the train stopping. The wheels crawled to a stop as we arrived at the station. I picked up my heavy luggage and lumbered to the exit, where I jumped off. I was welcomed by a beautiful view, with copious sand dunes and a beautiful, crisp, blue sea. We were in Romania, near the Black Sea. I smelled the salt in the air and prepared for an amazing adventure— little did I know what would happen upon me.
We arrived at the resort and got our keys. My grandma, my mom, and I went up to the seventh floor. I dragged my luggage across the carpeted floor and arrived at our room. My grandma inserted the key, and with three turns, we stumbled into our room.
Pristine white sheets covered our two beds, and a wide window revealed a gorgeous view of the beach. A green carpet with red threads woven in, a marble countertop in a mini kitchen, and a small balcony to see the beautiful sea welcomed us. I ran to the balcony to look at the sea, where I noticed the massive waves crashing on the shore.
I ran back inside and helped my mom. We laid our luggage down and unpacked it. After around an hour, we were settled in.
My grandma said, “Sa mergem” as I was putting my shoes on. As my Romanian wasn’t too good at the time, I stayed quiet, unsure how to respond. I tied a double knot with my shoelaces and jumped up. I gripped my hand on the brass knob and opened the door. I couldn’t wait to go to Fried Fish. As their name suggests, their fried fish is simply divine.
I ran to the elevator and waited for my mom and grandma. After waiting forever, they came. I elbowed the button and tapped my foot on the colorful carpet while waiting. A loud ding rang through my ears as a set of metal doors opened up. We crammed into the elevator and went down to the ground floor.
Another ding sounded, and the doors opened as we spilled out. I ran outside and felt the fresh air around me. I kicked up some sand and jogged to the restaurant. My family arrived, and a waiter escorted us to our table.
We sat down and ordered our food. I asked for their delicious fried fish, my mom the mahi-mahi, and my grandmother opted for the Fisherman’s Feast. In a mere fifteen minutes our food, all steamy and fresh, arrived. I laid my knife on the crisp fish and cut off a piece. A smell of spices floated up to my nose. I sank my teeth into the crunchy outside, feeling the soft white flesh. I could taste the delicious spices individually: red pepper, oregano, turmeric. In minutes, the full filet was long gone, and I was full of fish.
I leaned back on the booth, feeling the soft material on my back. A waiter took our credit card and swiped it through the mobile cashier. We sat up from our table and sleepily walked back to the hotel.
I heard the crashing sea and looked at it. Then a thought suddenly flashed through my mind. I wondered what would happen if I got hit by one of those big waves. I tried to get rid of the thought, but it stayed firmly in my mind. I’ll be fine, I said to myself, not really believing it.
We opened the glass doors and headed to the stainless steel doors of the elevator. We pressed the up button and got in. Seven dings later, the doors opened again. We walked to our room and crashed into our beds. A deep sleep with no dreams came easily after a long journey on the train.
I awoke to golden sunlight coming through the windows. My mom said, “Get out of bed, you sleepyhead,” playfully. I rolled out of bed and fell on the blue carpet.
“Oof,” I said as I got up. I walked to the mini kitchen, sat down, and took out a bottle of water. I took a refreshing sip, put on some day clothes, and asked, “When can we go down for breakfast?”
“In a sec,” my grandma responded. My grandma finally got ready, and we went down for breakfast. I vacuumed up an omelet, three waffles, and a bowl of milk and cereal. We went back to our room and prepared to go to the beach.
I felt the golden rays burning through my sunblock on my face. Silky white sand covered my feet and splashed whenever I set my feet down. An endless blue force retreated and attacked the beach ahead. I broke into a run, closing in on the sea, when a wave splashed down. Suddenly, my excitement turned into fear. It was almost as if the once calm sea knew my feelings and turned violent and nebulous, a dark force. I rooted my feet in the warm sand and steadied myself. It’s just the sea. I’m fine, I thought to myself.
I looked again at the sea and started going to it. A wave crashed in front of me, but I kept running. Before I knew it, I was waist deep in the water. A shiver flowed through me as the cold water encompassed me. If I move, I’ll stay warm, I said to myself. I turned to see my mom planting down the beach chairs. As I looked back ahead, a massive wave loomed over me. I tried to run back to the coast, my legs buzzing with adrenaline. My feet tried to dig into the wet ground, but they simply threw sand in the water. The area around me turned muddy. My foot slid on a rock in the seabed and I crashed in the water. My back was on the ground as the massive wave crashed on me. I couldn’t see anything in the water; my worst fear had come to life.
The wave that crashed on me receded back and dragged me into deep water. I swam to the surface and took a deep breath. My vision was covered with water. I found myself twenty feet away from shore. I tried to grip my feet in the sand, but I couldn’t touch the bottom. Fear ran through my body. I began to swim back when I felt something on my leg—a wet and curly thing attached itself to me. My breathing became raspy, my heart throbbing in my head. I yanked my leg free and realized it had only been some kelp. Ten feet left rushed through my mind, and then I turned around and saw an even bigger wave five feet above me, frothing at the edges and blue as a clear day. Even though I knew that I couldn’t outswim it, I tried. And then it crashed on me, and my world turned into water.
I opened my eyes in the water and found myself five feet below the surface. I swam upward and realized that I was above the surface and on the waves. But instead of trying to fight the wave again, I let the wave drag me without protest. The wave didn’t drag me under, but kept me above the surface. And then the wave succumbed to gravity, and I fell back to the surface. I grazed my feet on the sand of the ocean floor. I steadied myself and realized I was three feet away from the shore. I calmly walked back out of the water. I made it, I said to myself.
As I walked back to our camp, I slowly became groggy after my adrenaline-filled encounter with the sea. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe my fear of the sea was unwarranted. I laid down on the soft blue towel and wondered what to do next. I saw some other children running around and decided to play with them. We ran around and played together, and I enjoyed the rest of my day. When my mom finally called me over to help pack up, I folded the parasol and chairs, watching the sea as it foamed, and headed back to the hotel.
I skipped ahead of my family and looked at a corn-on-the-cob vendor. A feeling of desire overcame me. I walked over to my mom and asked her, “Can I have corn, please?”
My mom replied, “Of course.” She walked over to the vendor, handed over some money, and then I was holding a beautiful, yellow ear of corn. I took a bite and felt the salt dry my mouth, tasted the intense sweetness of the corn.
We walked back to the hotel while I ate my corn. We went up the seven floors and came to our room. We got ready for dinner, for our last meal near the Black Sea.
We went to Fried Fish once more, and ordered the same dishes. As we returned to our hotel, I looked wistfully at the sea one last time before helping my mom pack. My mom returned our keys, and we waited for our train to arrive.
The evening sunset showered the weeds in light, leaving shadows all over. I smelled the salt in the air one last time, and suddenly a whistle blew. Our train screeched against the rails and stopped in front of us. We boarded and sat down. The train started chugging again as I looked out the window and saw the beach before it faded out of view. I wondered, What will I do when I get back?