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Don't Worry About The Sharks
My dad put a bottle of sun tan lotion into the beach bag. I stared at the bag.
“We’re not going to the beach, are we?” I asked wearily.
“Of course we are son!” my dad said cheerfully. My face dropped and I headed to my room.
My name is Nathan, Nate for short. I live in San Diego with my father and am 15 years old. My mother is out of the picture and has been since I was 11 years old. My dad and I live in San Diego because of the beaches. The beach is my dad’s favorite place to be. I hate it. The sand gets in your pants and your sandals sink in the sand. The main reason I hate the beach is because of the ocean… sharks really. There has never been a shark attack here, but you never know. I don’t want to be eaten alive.
My phone rang and I looked down at the screen. Natalie.
Natalie and I have been best friends since we were 5 years old. Her mom would pick me up at school whenever my dad was working late at the office.
A lot of kids at school view me and Natalie as more than just friends but it’s not like that. To be honest, I view Natalie more of a sister than anything else.
I picked up the phone. “Hey Nat.”
“Nathan,” she said, “I have a problem.”
“I lost my party-planner-book,” she said in a panicky tone. “I think I have everything I need for the beach party next weekend but I have to check the book and make sure I didn’t go over the budget. My mom will kill me if I did.”
“Mmmhhmm,” I said into the phone.
Natalie and I share everything together and I mean everything. Sometimes like these, when I have no idea what to say, I just make vague noises to make her think I understand what she’s saying.
“Where do you think it’d be?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You are no help Nate,” Natalie sighed. “I’ll call you later… if my mom doesn’t kill me!”
And with that she hung up the phone.
“Son, are you ready?” my dad asked as he peeked in my room.
“Yeah lemme just change into some shorts.”
The beach was not as jam-packed as it usually was on Saturday mornings. I helped my dad lay out the beach towels.
“So,” he started, “Today I am going to help you overcome your fear of swimming in the ocean.”
“Uh,” I sighed. This is not the first time my dad has “helped me overcome my fear.”
9 years ago, when I was 6, my dad filled our bathroom with sand and sea shells. He also filled the bathtub with water. He put me in the tub and told me that swimming in the ocean was a lot like swimming in the tub. That didn’t help… at all. It was actually kind of traumatizing if you ask me.
“Do I really have to do this dad?”
“Of course son. We live in San Diego. There are always things going on at the beach. If you don’t like the beach, you will have no social life. And what about Natalie’s party next weekend… you wanna go right?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Let’s get movin’!” My dad grabbed my hand and dragged me to where the water gently hit the shore then retrieved back to the ocean.
“Now put one toe in.”
“Dad this is ridiculous,” I said.
“Just do it.”
I did as I was told.
“Not so bad, is it?” he asked.
Again I rolled my eyes.
“Now walk in until the water is at your ankles.”
“Dad, this is dumb,” I pleaded. “Can we just stop?”
“Nope!” my dad said and we continued. “Give me your shirt so I can go put it by the towels.”
“I’m not going in all the way.”
“Shirt or no shirt, I want you to go in Nate.”
I left my shirt on.
“Ok, now walk in until the water reaches your knees.”
“Umm,” I said. “Sharks can swim in water that deep.”
“Nate… just take a deep breath.”
I took a deep breath and kept walking. The water was kind of warm. And it was clear. I could see all the little shells at the bottom. It was actually kind of beautiful.
“How do you like it out there Nate?” I heard my dad yell. I turned around and my dad was back at the towels. I looked down. The water was at my waste. And it felt… good.
I splashed my hands in the water and walked in a little further. The water now reached my shoulders. I took a deep breath, went under water, then came back up.
Wow, this is fun. This is amazing. I’m going to go to Nat’s party next weekend. I decided.
I played in the ocean until the sun started to set.
“So how was it?” my dad asked as I lay down on the towel next to him.
“I had fun.”
“That’s good… I’m glad you liked it.”
“Yeah… I was thinking about what you said earlier. And you’re right. My friends are always inviting to beach parties and I’ve always been to scarred to go to one. Plus Natalie really wants me to go to her party next weekend. And you’re right dad… there’s nothing to be scarred of.”
My dad smiled as he picked up the beach bag. “Well we better get goin’.”
On the walk home, I thought more about the beach. “Hey dad?”
“Do you think we can go to the beach again tomorrow?”
My dad put his arm around my shoulders. “Of course we can, son.”
When got home, I flopped myself on the couch and turned on the t.v. as my dad prepared our backyard grill for hotdogs. My phone rang.
“Hey,” I said.
“I found it!” Natalie exclaimed.
“That’s great,” I said, not remembering what “it” was.
“It was under my dresser.”
“That’s wonderful,” I said.
“The party will be success.”
“Ohhh,” I said, now remembering what “it” was. “The party… by the way, I’m coming… if that’s ok.”
“Of course it’s ok Nate… but I thought you hated the beach.”
“I did… but not anymore.”
Natalie giggled. “Ok Nate, I’ll text you the details.”
“Thanks Nat… See you Monday.”