The Water’s Shadow

I haven’t posted this story anywhere so far. I haven’t really thought to. But it seems right to post here.

I live on Long Island. I’m surrounded by ocean, so I know my marine animals. I have seen ducks, geese, swans, plovers, and gulls. I know the local fish species, and I’ve seen seals and sea lions. But this was… something different.

A chilly day last spring, my sister, Sophie and our younger neighbor, Henry, went down the street from our house. We live on the corner of two streets, and down that street was a small portion of beach. Our little spot was a cute place to be in the summer, but the cold spring fog made the place a little more eerie. But I was used to eerie.

As all three of us headed down the sloping road, the sand in sight and the pathway clear, we started to think of how many rocks we could find that day. It was a hobby of mine, and the kiddies had just wanted to be cool like their teenage role model. The sand dusted our shoes, and we knew we had to start our awkward trek down the rocky terrain to get to the beach. A harshly snappy wind hit us all at around that time. With your head down, looking intently at green and brown and blue rocks that could break under your feet at any time, you don’t notice much.

I was only alerted to a movement in the water by Henry. A small, black mass was splashing in the water only feet away from the shoreline, but it disappeared pretty fast.  My first thought was, ‘its only a duck,’ and I brushed off Henry’s questions. Ducks dove underwater to eat. It’s no big deal.

Until we saw it again. A sharp, black figure. It looked almost like a seal bashed its head in on a rock, but the noise it made sounded nothing like the seals I knew. The noise was like bubbles, but bubbles blown in a whistle. High pitched, short, and rhythmic.

We weren’t sticking around to hear it any further. All three of us went bolting up the rocks, and we didn’t stop until about halfway up the sloped street again. And the only reason we stopped was because the noise was deafening. I moved instinctively to grab Sophie, only to frantically grip nothing. I was instantly turned on my heels, head whipping around way too fast.

My little sister was still on the rocks. Her head was pin straight at the water, the creature we saw floating out about 1000 feet away. The noise continued still, quieter now. Both Henry and I reached out to grab Sophie, dragging her off the rocks. But she wouldn’t budge.

“I have to go. See you later. I love you.”

Sophie took ten steps towards the water, and my sister instinct said to shove her as hard as possible. She woke up, in a way, startled by the sudden movement. I was almost too scared to let her know what was going on. So we all just booked it home.

As moms are, my mother was skeptical. But the genuine fear and adrenaline running through our veins prompted her to get blankets nonetheless. We were bundled up, Henry went home, and I spent the day calming down, trying to draw exactly what that creature was.

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