It’s a storm and the waves are rising.
She’s out far from the shore. She looks. It’s too far away. She turns back toward the storm. She tries to calm her breath and stem the panic that is swelling. Deep breath and exhale. The waves swell and her body bobs like drift wood. There’s no way to ride it out. She’s going to have to fight. Fear rises to her throat. She swallows, but it remains. As if she did not see it coming a wave crashes into her. Over her. She’s blinded for a second, but shakes away the water and starts to swim. She can’t go with the storm, the waves will consume her before she reaches shore. A patch of sun is visible beyond the dark clouds, but she will have to fight the storm to reach it.
Another wave. She’s taken momentarily under the surface but quickly rises again. Start swimming. She manages to avoid the strike of two ferocious waves. She swims deep beneath them. But now she needs air. She rises and breaks the surface. She quickly pans the sky for the sun. She sees it. Did it grow farther away some how? She doesn’t seem any closer.
Another wave. She’s taken deep below the surface this time. Her body scrapes across the ocean floor and her skin connects with a patch of coral. She feels her skin torn away and burning as the salt finds its way into the gash. Reaching through the water, she pulls herself to the surface. If she doesn’t fight, she’s not going to make it. She emerges again and immediately fills her lungs with air. Where is the patch of light? Get there!
She strains toward it. Thrashing with all her might against the waves. She ignores her burning muscles and coughs out the water that threatens to choke her.
Fight! Just get there. You just need to get there. She sees another wave and dives below it. Fight!
She rises and sees she’s closer. Desperation thrusts her forward. The light is growing larger as she nears.
A wave smacks her from the side. Its strength and violence surprise her. She tumbles and is swept away. Like a rag doll, she flails with the rush of the water and it spins her like wayward windmill.
She’s lost control. With each second, she’s ripped further from the break in the clouds. The wave is too powerful to fight. She closes her eyes tightly and prays for it to end. Just make it stop. Just make it stop.
She allows her body to freely roll and tumble. For a moment it almost feels peaceful. The loss of control is a respite for her aching muscles.
For a minute she feels almost still, and she feels tempted. Tempted to take a breath under water. One breath without any air, and it would all be over. She dwells on the thought. She opens her eyes. A glimmer of light above her head seems to beckon her. How far away? How difficult will the fight be to the surface?
The minute lengthens, and her lungs are burning. Seconds are fleeting. Her feet graze the ocean bottom. She pauses. And then with all her might she pushes. With all the strength remaining she propels herself toward the surface.
What fight will she have left when she breaks the surface? She won’t know until she does.
All she knows is she still has hope.