Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Blue Door...continued (part 11)

4th of July weekend. Rehoboth was to capacity. The boardwalk sagged and squeaked with each flip flop, sandal and bare foot. People were packed like sardines on the beach, pacing back and forth from the water. Seagulls foraged near trash cans and abandoned blankets. It was 98 degrees. The haze and humidity kept most under cover or in the water.

It was an accident.

Marta and Richard pitched their umbrella halfway between boardwalk and shoreline. Low reclining lawn chairs set up on either side of the pole. Towels lined up, one, two, three, with Hanna’s in the center, held down with coolers and shoes.

The lifeguards were busy blowing their whistles and directing swimmers. The waves were brutal, the undertow strong.

Hanna knew better.

“One more trip down to the water—knee high only, little one—and then you have to eat.” Marta yelled after Hanna.

Marta opened the cooler and pulled out the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Hanna had made for herself.

“Our daughter is quite the chef.” Marta said.

“She’s the only nine year old I know who can grind coffee beans.” Richard said smiling.

Marta set the sandwich on a paper towel along with a cluster of red seedless grapes.

Richard looked up and surveyed the coast.

“I don’t see her. I’ll be right back.” Richard said.

“I’m sure she’s not far. She knows it’s time for lunch” Marta said.

Marta stood up and followed Richard down to the water with her eyes. The crowd in the water was moving in towards the beach. The waves were high, crashing on backs, toppling people right and left.

“RICHARD!” Marta yelled towards her husband.

Richard turned to see his wife running. Her arm outstretched, her finger pointing, her face frantic. He turned back towards the water and ran, but waves would prevent his pursuit.

“HANNA—HANNA!” Marta screamed.

A lifeguard barreled down the beach into the water past Richard.

Marta pushed desperately against the waves towards her husband. The lifeguard yelled for them to go back to the beach. Hanna lay lifeless and unphased by any attempts to resuscitate. 


  1. My heart aches for this couple. Hanna is making her way back, but this is something I think no parent could truly recover from. They seem to draw strength from each other. Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Of course, I meant Marta is making her way back. Sorry.

  3. Those Atlantic waves taking another victim.

    A teenager from my DC neighborhood was standing in knee-deep water when a shore-going wave hit him. Paralyzed.