Guest Blogger: Julie Flanders
Hi, all, and thank you for having me here, Carol. It's a big thrill to do my first ever guest post! I am new to the writing game, and this short story about a strange beach encounter is a reflection of that experience.
I’m at my favorite spot under the Tiki Hut, and I’m drinking a Mojito. No snacks for me, as I’m working on losing those last five pounds. Please, don’t ask how long I’ve been trying to lose them.
I’m staring at my laptop, and imagining my fingers flying over the keyboard, writing perfect prose that agents will fight over. But, my fingers aren’t moving, and I’m not writing anything. Not even a title.
Who am I kidding, thinking I can write? I’m too old for this. Why didn’t I start when I was younger?
I’m distracted from my litany of negativity by a woman swimming towards the shore. Her arms and legs are flailing, and I’m certain she’s not going to make it.
I run to the shoreline and stand there, helpless. I can’t swim. What the hell am I going to do? I look around the empty beach. Where are the lifeguards? The college kids playing Frisbee? Anyone??
To my immense relief, the woman paddles closer, and finally emerges onto the sand.
She drops to her knees, and I run to her. Up close, I can see her grey hair and wrinkles. She must be at least 70.
“Are you okay?”
The woman turns to me, and I see something familiar in her face. She looks like….me?
“I’m fine,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”
I scowl. Always wanted to drown? Always wanted to give an innocent bystander a heart attack?
“Always wanted to do what?”
“Swim the length of this beach.”
“Really? Why didn’t you do it when…” Remembering my manners, I stop.
“When I was younger? Because I couldn’t swim then. I just learned last year.” She smiles. “When I was 78.”
“You learned to swim at 78?”
“I would think…wasn’t it too late?”
“No, it wasn’t.” She stands up and brushes the sand from her legs. “It was the perfect time.”
I can't help but notice that her voice sounds suspiciously like mine.
“Who are you?”
“You know me,” she says as she walks away. “I’m Julie.”
“What?? How do I know you? I don’t…”
But there’s no point in continuing. She’s gone.
I sit back down in my chair and wonder how many Mojitos I’ve had. I swear it was only one. Maybe I’m simply crazy.
Had she really been here? Or should I say, had I been here??
I stare at the waves and think about my visitor. Finally, I pick up my laptop, and start to write. I have a title for my story. It's called Learning to Swim.
And this is the perfect time to write it.