Laura runs with her towel along the beach. She can smell the sea air on her lips, feel the sand pushing in between her toes. The gulls call and she makes a small cry in her own throat she thinks is an answer back. She tosses her towel on the sand and wades into the water. Jamie is ahead of her. He is doing somersaults into the waves. There are swimmers out by the buoys, other children in the shallow water next to the cracks in the tidal flats.
Laura turns back toward the shore. They are all going swimming, Uncle Peter with his boxer’s hairy chest and Aunt Cecily in her aqua two-piece and Lucy Palmer in her short swim dress that does not cover the blue veins of her legs. Laura sits back, kicks her feet up and floats. She sees a strip of green trees, the long, curling stretch of white sand, the water that is green on her suit but blue from the sky. Laura sculls, trails her hand along the sandy bottom. She does not care if Jamie bumps her, dares her; she does not care if there are children smaller than she is paddling out toward the buoys. Uncle Peter and Aunt Cecily swim in long strokes far out in the water and then turn, floating their way back, Aunt Cecily’s head on Uncle Peter’s shoulder. Laura’s mother, uncertain without her glasses, tries to float but she can’t.
Laura closes her eyes. She sees the sun white beneath her eyelids. She hears voices around her. She is floating blind in a crowd, and she thinks shark first when it happens. And she thinks second that there are no sharks here but only Jamie’s sharks at night in Ohio when they all play shadowgraph and make hand-monsters behind a sheet with a flashlight.