Caribbean Paradise

Paradise and Peril are Hidden Just Below The Surface

The sweet taste of strawberry trickled down the back of her throat. Crushed ice cooled her parched pallet, and then the headache began to roar. Jennifer closed her eyes and prayed for the pain to go away so she could suck down another refreshing swallow. The aching seemed to linger, but then begin to fade.  The agony that throbbed inside her mind soon disappeared.

A shallow swallow of her daiquiri brought the refreshing Jennifer desired without the pain. Soon she found her rhythm of swallows and pauses until her cocktail was finished far too soon. Jennifer looked back up towards the resort. It was only ten minutes to the bar, but the July Caribbean sun beat down on her bikini-clad body.

She felt a little light-headed, and a smile spread over her face. The turquoise waters promised a respite from the heat and would help clear her head. The crystal clear waters lapped at Jennifer’s ankles as she began her treck into the Caribbean. Fifty yards away, a father played in the shallows with his children.

Jennifer ambled into deeper water and avoided the calypsos floating in the shallows. Soon the water covered the bottom of her red bikini, and she rolled over on her back. Her amber hair framed her fair-skinned face. She knew she could not stay out in the sun for long, no matter how peaceful it was.

Jennifer’s ears sat just below the water line, and the sounds above the surface disappeared from around her. She closed her eyes and began to count down from six hundred in a half-hearted manner. She would return to shore once the countdown was completed. Jennifer’s light-headed state caused her to skip, repeat, and then forget numbers altogether.

Frustrated, she finally stood up and promptly sank beneath the surface. The water was deeper than she remembered. Undeterred, Jennifer kicked her feat twice and broke the water’s surface. Voices were yelling, children screamed, and a man in a red bathing suit stood at the age of the ocean blowing his whistle and waving in her direction.

Jennifer realized she had drifted almost seventy-five yards from shore. She tried to understand what the lifeguard was yelling, but could not make out his words. With a wave of her hand to assure everyone she was okay, Jennifer began her swim back towards the beach.

Twenty yards closer to shore, a large gray fish passed closely beneath her in the eight-foot water. Jennifer startled at the site of a shark and worked to continue her even pace to shore while expelling the water she accidentally sucked inside her mouth.

Another fifteen yards had been covered when Jennifer turned her head to the right for air and saw the large fin cruising towards her. She quickened her pace. Five more yards and the shark collided with Jennifer’s side. Her body was pushed to the left and then rolled like a rag doll beneath the shark. Jennifer shot up to the surface and watched the fin of the shark continue down the coast.

Relieved, but shaken, Jennifer returned to her swim back to the beach. Twenty yards from shore the bottom was no more than a few feet below, and she put her feet down. Looking over her shoulder, Jennifer was relieved to see no signs of her curious friend. Soon the water had receded below her bathing suit.

“Hurry up, ma’am,” insisted the young lifeguard.

Jennifer waved him off, “It’s alright, he’s gone. Besides, it’s too shallow here.”

The lifeguard’s eyes grew wide, and he shook his head. Jennifer glanced over her should and saw a large dorsal fin heading her direction. Jennifer screamed and fought against the water that held her from dry land and salvation.

The young lifeguard ran towards her splashing in the water and yelling. The man reached out, grabbed her wrist and yanked Jennifer towards the shore. The water grew more shallow with each footfall.

The young man’s voice rose and cracked, “Don’t look back.”
Something nudged Jennifer’s ankle, and she instinctively lifted her knees high and stepped faster. Jennifer felt a warm liquid on the back of her ankle followed by the burn of the salt water.

Loud splashes faded from behind as she reached the beach. Looking down a red pool of blood formed in the sand around her left foot. The young lifeguard reached into his nylon bag that sat in the sand and began to clean and put pressure on Jennifer’s wound. The sand moved and shifted beneath her, and Jennifer collapsed on to the hot sand. A hand touched her cheek, and she turned her head towards it.

“My name is Chip.”

Jennifer looked bewildered at her rescuer.

“My name is Chip. You’re fortunate, Bull sharks don’t normally let their prey get away.”

Jennifer closed her eyes and covered her forehead with her arm. “How bad is it?”

Chip started to wrap her ankle. “Not bad, I’d say four stitches, and you’ll be ready to hit the bar tonight.”

“Perhaps I’ll enjoy the evening from my room. I believe I’ve had enough fun for one day.”