English A 02-08, February, 2004


Growing up in a family with strict values that causes one to be wary of every step they take has a lasting effect on one's mental stability, as they grow older. In some ways, the environment that one grows up in will shape them and perhaps cause them to do risky things against their better judgment in order to perhaps stay out of trouble. Discipline is a two- sided knife, and there is a thin line one walks everyday upon it. In result, the decisions one makes in such a situation could cause them to make reckless decisions, ignoring the consequences of every day life and the forces of nature.
"And this just in: An emergency weather warning has just been issued for the Atlantic coast. Expect extreme weather and storm conditions for all coastal areas. Try to prevent from going outside. Boarding up your windows would be a very good idea. Expect conditions to get dangerous. And in other news."
'Hmm. . . ' Thought the young girl washing dishes in the kitchen while listening to the report on the TV in the next room. "It'll blow over," she commented out load to herself. "There hasn't been a storm in these parts for over twenty years." Pushing the long sleeves of her plaid shirt farther up her arms, she rinsed the dishes. The warm water washed over her skin, rinsing away the silky foam of soap bubbles. Carefully placing the now clean dishes in the strainer, she took the time to tuck a few stray strands of wavy chestnut hair behind her ear, absently observing that a shower may be in order to rid her hair of the salt incrusted within it from when she went swimming in the sea an hour before. Suddenly her eyes widen as she remembers that she left her towel on the beach. It was her good one, too. Her large dark blue one that was so soft to the touch that she can imagine to feel like a touchable cloud. Biting her pale pink bottom lip, her eyes reflect her indecision to go back for it. It's getting dark, and she knows that she is not allowed to be out so late at night. If her step-grandfather found out . . .
But it is her favorite towel and she knows she was told not to take it to the beach, but she had not been able to resist. It had been the only clean one in the house, all the others being dirty. She had not yet made the weekly trip to the laundry mat with her two younger sisters. In sudden decision, she goes to the living room and looks at the clock. If she hurries she might be able to get to the beach and back before her grandparents get back from the store. Switching off the television, she exits the house, not locking the door behind her. Stepping upon the first of seven flat dark blue pieces of slate that make up the footpath, she quickly crosses each one and opens up the chain link fence at the end, feeling the cool metal beneath her small fingers.
Leaving the gate, she carefully crosses the rocky distance between the street and the fence. Halfway across, her foot steps on a particularly sharp rock and she thanks the fact that she hardly ever wears shoes in the summer so now her feet are tougher than normal and that prevents the rock from cutting in too deeply. She continues on, wincing slightly when she puts pressure on her foot. Ignoring the biting pain, she makes it across the street and turns left, then right at the next turn ten feet up. Making it down the road she can see her goal in the distance; the high wooden stairs that will take her over the tall, sandy dunes, depositing her on the other side of the mounds of sand that, covered in coarse sea grass, serves to protect the shore houses from high tides and huge waves during small storms. As she runs, she becomes aware of the wet smell in the air. Strong to begin with so close to the ocean, the salty air is replaced with a fresher cleaner smell. Absently, she makes the connection that the smell means a storm is coming. On impulse she looks up and gapes at the sky. Usually a clear blue with small drifting white clouds, the sky has taken on the appearance of an angry wound. Grey, dark and swollen, and for the first time she notices the feeling of electricity in the air, raising the small pale hairs on her thin arms. With a slight shiver she looks away from the sight and focuses more on her current goal; running across the dark uneven road to get her towel back. Reaching the end of the street, she places the lingering pain of her foot behind her as she runs across the coarse sand interlaced with twigs and other debris that lies at the foot of the stairs.
The first drops of rain began to fall as she starts up the steps, running her hand lightly against the aged cracked wood of the banister that feels smooth despite its uneven surface. As she gets closer to the top, the soft sounds of her treading footsteps on the creaking, aged steps, start to get lost beneath the booming sounds of the sea. Upon reaching the landing at the top of the stairs, she barley notices the small widely placed dark spots that grow in number and grow closer together as the rain picks up, marking it's existence upon her plaid shirt, hair and hands. She had been standing there for only a moment when suddenly a strong blast of wind knocks into her side, pitching her almost over the banister with its ferocity. Clutching the banister harder with her right hand, she quickly places her left next to the other and holds on tighter with that one as well. Knowing that she cannot stay there, she carefully picks her way down the stairs holding on to the water-speckled banister as hard as she can in an effort not to get blown over.
Halfway down she realizes that she cannot hear anything over the howling of the wind blowing in her ears or the crashing of sea in the distance. Carefully, she continues her descent, the wind growing stronger the further she goes until she is having to squint her eyes to see though the rushing wind that is starting to make her eyes water. Barely able to see anything, she is mostly moving by feel alone now, cautiously feeling the steps with her feet before she steps forward. When finally she reaches the bottom and takes the risk of letting go of the banister, she is blown over by another freak wind; one that knocks her face first upon the crusted sand of the beach. With a strong push she manages to climb shakily to her feet and tries her best to spit out the sand that has invaded her mouth, turning to mud. She grimaces as she again tries her best to spit it all out while fighting the strength of the wind. Trying to forget the granny after taste and the lingering remaining sand, she ducks her head and starts to push her way through the wind, her feet leaving small holes in the hardened top layer of sand that breaks beneath her weight. The rain has increased since her arrival on the beach and is now mixing with the wind, sweeping erratically in a downwards slant that is biting her face, arms and hands like a thousand needles.
Squinting through the wind and rain that has grown to a gale, she finally manages to spot something in the distance. The needles of the rain upon her arms and face increase in intensity and in an effort to escape some of the pain she pushes the already falling sleeves of her shirt the rest of the way down her arms to meet with her thin wrists. Still keeping her head down in an effort to protect her face from the stinging rain, she notices for the first time her footprints from earlier that afternoon beginning to fill up with water, turning the loose sand around the indentions to dark mud. Glancing up to check her bearings, she sees that she has almost reached her dark blue towel. Trying her best to increase her speed through the driving wind and rain, she slowly makes her way to the forgotten towel.
So focused is she on making her destination that she doesn't notice right away how high the tide has gotten. She is only ten feet in front and to the side of the foot of the stairs and already she has come to the high tide line. In her haste she fails to notice that the high tide line should not be so high at this time of the night, getting close to six PM. She has just reached the towel, hard to make out in the early storm induced darkness when there is a sudden roar to her side and she is swept towards the direction of the sea by the strength of a powerful wave. Seawater chokes down her throat as she tries to take a breath. Franticly she tries to swim toward the surface as the undertow takes her further from shore. Trying to reach the surface she struggles, feeling some of the washed up seaweed tangle in her legs preventing movement to a large degree, and gripped by oncoming fear, she gives a sudden powerful kick to free herself.
Reaching the surface, she takes in a deep breath that feels like cold ice slipping into her lungs. After one staggering breath she is pulled under once more. "No, no!" she frantically thinks as the sea seeks to once more claim her. "I have to get my towel. I have to get home! I have to get home before Grandpa." However, the water and the undertow are against her and she feels herself slowly loosing her fight against the water and the tide. The storm is upon her and she is only just realizing that she should have listened more closely to the weather report and left her towel on the beach. But then she would be in even more trouble later on. Thinking this final thought gives her an extra burst of energy and with a mighty kick she fights her way back to the surface. Filled with the energy given to her from the knowledge that she needs to get home and the fact that it was all her fault that she was out in the dangerous storm in the first place, she becomes even more determined to make it home safely.
Making it to the surface, she fights against the strong undertow and the tide, managing to take short deep breaths before she is repeatedly overcome by mightily breakers. Gaining strength from her determination she tries to relax and forget about the icy fear gripping her chest, constricting her breathing. Finally, she makes it to the beach, leaving the terror of the sea behind but returning to the less encompassing fear of the storm waiting for her on land. Sorting her feet out beneath her, she runs as fast as she can to her towel. It takes a while to reach for she has to make up the distance lost from the flow of the undertow pulling her south along the coastline. When she finally reaches her item, she pulls it from the grainy grip of the sand that had partly covered it up, keeping it from drifting out to sea. As she picks it up, she thinks for the first time about the coincidence that the towel was still there. However, she knows from experience and observation that the towel must have rolled over in the wind until it reached the tide line where it slowly got wet, making it heavier until the wind could not move it around anymore. Each receding wave caused the towel to fill with sand and sea water, making it embed itself more and more into the sand. So, drenched as it is with seawater and sand, it has gained an extra seven pounds and carrying it with her across the beach makes her already slow going even harder. Struggling with the towel, she bites her bottom lip hard and focuses on the task at hand. Pushing away the fear that she will have a lot of explaining to do when she gets home, she tries to ignore all her inner thoughts and doubts. It seems to work and before she knows it, she has made it back to the foot of the stairs. Slowly making her way up them, she wonders about the storm and how she was able to walk through it at all. She has reached the top of the stairs and although her arms ache from the weight of the towel and her body is screaming at her to rest, she knows that she cannot. She has to continue on and make it home.
The fight through the wind and rain that she has to go through as she makes it down the street seem to make the journey even longer, and she worries about getting knocked over by the strong wind or one of the widely swaying power cables above her landing on the ground before her feet and electrocuting her. She starts to run home, the dirt and gravel digging into her feet and notices that her wounded one is now numb and she can no longer feel the pain. A gust of wind suddenly knocks her down and she cries out in pain as she scraps her knees and palms on the gravel. She quickly staggers up and continues as fast as she can toward the direction of home. Making her way through the rain she keeps repeating the mantra of, "Home, I have to get home!" Her voice is lost in the howling wind, so that even she cannot hear the words that she has spoken. With her body aching, arms screaming from the weight of the towel, she uses her last bit of energy to run home. Adrenaline fills her blood as she falls again and gets up, continuing to run.
Running down the street, she finally reaches her turn off and slows, knowing that if she continues running she will soon collapse. Stopping to catch her breath she staggers where she stands for a moment. Breathing slowly, she walks the last final paces towards her house. She has almost reached her destination when the sight of her grandparents tan station wagon pulling into the driveway makes her face pale. "Oh no! They can't be home by now," she cries. Her eyes frown in concentration and an idea comes to her. "If I hurry, if I run though, I might get inside before they do." With that last thought she takes off towards the gate, opens it and goes through. Her step-grandfather looks up when he hears the sound of her feet but looks down to pick up a bottle lying on the ground before he sees her pass by. She runs as fast as she can, heart pounding, and opens the door, slamming it behind her as she gets inside and runs to her room. Sitting on her bed, she covers her face with her hands, positive that he has seen her.
Outside, her step-grandfather looks back up, bottle in hand and narrows his eyes when he hears the door slam. "Whelp," he says to himself. "I can't believe that you thought you could get away with it."
Sitting in her room, knowing that she has but a few moments to herself before her step-grandfather comes in, she thinks about what she has just gone through. Though she knows that it was a bad idea to go outside so close to dark, she managed to get her towel back and as she hears the sound of the door open and the angry footsteps of her grandfather closing in on her room over the underlying sound of the television being turned on, the weatherman's report on the condition of the storm making its way to her frightened ears, ". and Hurricane Bertha has picked up velocity and is continuing to make her way down the Atlantic coast line." she knows that she would rather go through the fear of the storm again than face whatever punishment is in store for her. For even the fear of the storm was better than the punishments her step-grandfather could make her go through.

*** What did you think? I hope you liked it. It is probably the best piece I have done for class so far. I managed to get a 96% on this. However, she never told me why I did not get any higher . *grin* Anyway, please review and tell me if there is something I can do to make it better. Thanks a lot for reading it. - Nevyn Slash

2:57 PM April 28th, 2004 - Fixed the grammatical error that FirePheonix666 pointed out to me in her review. Thanks a lot. *grin* Sorry it took so long to get around to it.