By James Puppolo
It was the season of summer and the Prado family had just arrived at the town of Brewster in Cape Cod. They had anticipated this since last winter when the family had decided to vacation there on the advice of a friend. They all looked forward to the nice hot beaches, the cold refreshing waters, and the greasy deep-fried food. As they rolled down an unpaved dirt road, they kept an eye out for the home they would be staying in for the next two weeks, tires kicking up dirt as they went.
“Are we there yet?” whimpered Matthias. He and Lana were utterly bored and couldn’t stand being cramped up anymore. They had spent ten hours on a flight and now had been in the car for over an hour. “I need help finding the address. Jen could you help?” Juan Carlos asked, while cruising down the street. He wiped some sweat off his forehead. The rent-a-car air conditioner had come broken. The car was a clean black sedan and was several years old, with over one hundred thousand miles on it, but would serve its purpose. “I have the paperwork rate here.” She pointed out. Jen then looked out the window and noticed that odd numbered houses were on the right. She rolled down her window and started scanning the homes as they passed. “What number is it?” Matthias asked inquisitively, as house by house zipped past him. “One hundred and thirty-nine.” Jen told. “I see it!” Lana exclaimed, moments later.
That’s when the whole family’s eyes fell on the home they would be renting. It was a one-story wooden home with no paint and a stone driveway, the lawn patchy with grass, dirt, and sand. The car was parked, and the Prado family got out. Lana and Matthias jumped out the car and first started stretching and then quickly started running around on the front lawn. They spotted a rabbit and ran for it, but it hopped off and hid in a thick bush. The air had a polleny feel to it that was cascading in the sunlight with a pleasant heavenly scented hint of sea salt all around.
“Matthias, come help me carry these bags.” Juan Carlos ordered, as he lifted as many duffle bags and suitcases as he could carry. “Awe, ok.” Matthias said in sorrow with his head down. He then picked his head up and sprinted toward his father. Jen then grabbed Lana’s hand and walked her to the home’s front door. Jen put the key in and turned. They peered inside. Lana yelled “Yay!!!” and dashed in. The home was as promised. It was dimly lit with random rays of sun shining in. It had a dusty musk to it along with the smell of cleaning solutions. The home consisted of a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and one bath. Paradise.
“Can we go to the beach now?” Lana suggested. “Please!” Matthias pleaded. Juan Carlos came to the door with the last of the bags. “Yeah, why don’t we unpack later. We can go to the beach now.” Jen admitted. “Yay!! Yeah!!” Lana and Matthias both screamed.
They made it to the beach minutes later. The wind was blowing and picking up bits of sand which you could feel on your skin as you walked, you had to squint your eyes just to protect them from blindness. The smell of salt from the sea was now at its most pungent. There were a lot of vacationers there, all setup for the day but room was available at a spot down on the right. They walked that way and dropped their bags, beach chairs, and toys.
“It’s time for suntan lotion.” Jen insisted, as she dug through her handbag and retrieved two containers. She passed a bottle to Juan Carlos and the two of them applied lotion to their children’s skin, Jen to Matthias and Juan Carlos to Lana’s. The children complained slightly but were obedient more than less.
“I want to go in.” eagerly said Matthias. “Well, I’m kind of hungry.” admitted Juan Carlos. “Me too. Why don’t we eat first?” Inquired Jen. The family observed a parked food truck on the street that other families and kids were lining up at for a bite. The Prado family walked over and looked over the menu on its side.
Juan Carlos decided on the chicken tenders and Jen the hamburger. The kids both asked for grilled cheese sandwiches. It took several minutes but eventually the food was ready, and the family took it back to be consumed.
The chicken was very crispy and oily and breaded to perfection with BBQ sauce to dip. The burger patty was burned slightly on the outside but red at its center and served with lettuce, tomato, and onion. The grilled cheese was ooey-gooey, and the cheese melted right in your mouth. All the meals tasted great. As they ate, a hungry seagull came over and begged for food, trying to cop a free meal. Juan Carlos swatted at the bird, almost hitting it, it let out a yelp. “Squawk!!!” And flew away empty handed. All in all, the food was really delicious and filled everyone’s bellies. They drank coca cola to wash it down, the kids, licking their fingers after every bite until finished.
When close to being done, Lana remembered something, she had seen the man in the food truck selling ice cream. “Can I have some ice cream?” she begged. “You’ll be too full, we can get you some later.” Jen said comfortingly.
“Well, let’s go in the water. It’s too hot.” Juan Carlos admitted and changed the subject. Jen then said she would wait to go in, but the two kids were excited. They took their shoes and socks off and felt the sand on their feet for the first time. It was hot, cool, and massaging. Their feet would first feel the beginning burn from the heated top of the sand, then sink in with every new step, becoming slightly cooler as they dug deeper to the cold sand buried below. As the kids ran to the ocean shore, Juan Carlos spotted two teenagers fishing off the rocks with bunker, one of them was reeling in a striper. The water was splashing about as the fish tried to fight free as it skipped across the sea’s surface but eventually the teen was able to pull the bass out. He held the fish up by the gills with pride, the fish who was a couple of feet long. It glistened in the sunlight with beads of water running and falling off and sparkling in the sun as it tried to wiggle itself-free.
As they all rushed into the waves, the water was cold but with the heat from the sun on their skin and the coolness in the air, the combination was perfectly tolerable. Lana had brought with her a pink boogie board to float on and ride the waves in. While Lana did that, Matthias and his father played catch with a gold frisbee around knee deep to waist deep. Lana would go out to about her ribs and then ride a big wave in past her father and brother and under the flying frisbee above.
Everything was blissful fun! After a while, Lana rode in another wave, this time watching as a boy and girl caught a blue crab in a net. The boy reached in the net and retrieved the crab by pinching it from behind. It bubbled in its mouth and tried without success to pinch. They put it in a pail of seawater and carried it to their sandcastle on the shore. Matthias had witnessed this feat too. Lana and Matthias both ran after the kids to investigate. The boy and girl had quite the sandcastle. It had various tower mounds with shells as decorations, the castle walls with seaweed to help fortify, and one big flag at its center. There were many different sea creatures to fill its moat that had been caught as well.
“What’s that thing?” Matthias said pointing. It was weird looking with a big dark brown circular smooth shell and a long pointy tail. “That’s a horseshoe crab.” The boy proudly boasted. He then picked it up and showed them its underbelly. There were so many legs and pinchers moving, Lana let out a little gasp. “Ahhhh!”
The rest of the sandcastle had little minnow fish and hermit crabs to fill it with. Just then, Juan Carlos had walked back to see what all the fuss was, this just as the boy emptied the blue crab, water and all, into the moat. “Whoa, look at that!! Juan Carlos embarrassedly said, and then paused. “Are they going to make it?” He asked. “The tide is coming in, so they should survive.” The girl told. “Oh, okay. Say, why don’t we go in the water for a little longer and then we can take a break and build our own sandcastle?” Juan Carlos promisingly asked. “Hee he hee, ok.” Lana gleefully said. “Sure.” Said Matthias.
The three then returned to the water and went in. As Lana rode in a wave past Juan Carlos, he looked out to the sea. What he saw was a mixture of white to blue skies with whisking white clouds jetting through and a bright yellow-red blistering sun. The ocean was a dark navy-blue with waves that turn aquamarine with white bubbles brimming about as they churned. He threw the frisbee to Matthias. As he turned at the finish of his pass, those teens fishing again caught his eye. One was reeling in his rod in a hurry, like he was in trouble.
Juan Carlos could just make out what they were saying as the teen picked his line up out of the water. “Aww, something bit my fish in half.” That’s when the other teen started to holler out and point with his finger. “Shark!!! I think there’s a shark in the water!!” The other teen shouted to those in the ocean and on the beach.
That’s when Lana looked behind her. All she could see was the dark water but then she saw it take shape. It moved toward her and started to surface. She at first could only see its gray dorsal fin poking up from above the waves. Lana inhaled deep the ocean air around her and turned back toward the coastline. She then exhaled and attempted to ride the next wave in, but it was too weak to go any distance. She looked back again and that’s when it happened. An adolescent great white shark was waiting there with its mouth wide open and eyes rolled back. Lana’s foot was just about in its mouth, which was full of rows of sharp jagged teeth. The top of its head was gray, the bottom white. Lana turned back facing the coast to try to escape but then Lana could feel the piercing pain, it was like getting cut by a dozen razors all at once. She let out a scream. “Aaahhhh!!!” “Get away from her!!” Matthias demanded, he was only a couple of feet from Lana as the blood was running up and down her leg.
Juan Carlos started to run, jumping over waves toward his kids but was still 15 feet out. Matthias made a fist, leaned in, punching the shark in its nose. This caused the shark to hiss and gurgle, its mouth now reopened. Lana was able to get her foot free, bringing her leg forward and then released, kicking the shark in its left eye. The shark then closed its mouth, submerged once more, and turned swimming away back towards the tides and sun in the horizon sky. Juan Carlos reached his children and picked up Lana and grabbed Matthias by his hand. They then ran to the sandy beach where Jen was waiting on the shore, scared and with fear on her face.
“Is she alright?” Jen worriedly asked. “She’s bleeding, she was bit on her left foot.” Juan Carlos cried. “I’ll go get the car.” Jen signaled. “We can leave our stuff here.” She said. “Is Lana going to be alright?” Matthias questioned. “We have to take her to the hospital now.” Juan Carlos told his son.
Lana was now crying, and a crowd had formed around them. Juan Carlos wrapped a beach towel around Lana’s leg and foot. Him and Matthias then grabbed what they could carry. They had to leave behind some towels, chairs, and toys. A man and a women then shouted they would help and grabbed what was left behind, chasing after Juan Carlos and Matthias as they sprinted towards their car.
They made it to the street and Jen was there to help load Lana into the back seat. They loaded their stuff into the car and thanked those who had helped. Juan Carlos then got into the driver’s seat with Matthias as shotgun and Jen crept into the backseat with Lana to hold and apply pressure to her wound. “Do you know where the hospital is?” Jen asked. She then got out her phone and found directions, while Juan Carlos started the car and put it in drive. Jen then passed the phone up front and down the road the car sped. Lana started to feel really cold and her skin had turned pale white. She shivered and then closed her eyes, falling asleep.
The next thing Lana knew she was already at the hospital and was being carried by her father into the lobby. A doctor came running over and looked at the injury. “It was a shark attack!” Juan Carlos informed. “Looks like the bleeding has stopped. The wound will need to be cleaned, she’s going to need stitches.” The doctor pointed out. Lana kept hugging her father in his arms, afraid to look at her sore foot and too upset to look at anyone’s face.
Next, Lana was in bed in a patient room with the doctor and her mother waiting outside. “It stings.” Lana spoke. “Will the stitches hurt?” She asked “No, they shouldn’t, I’ll use an anesthetic. You shouldn’t feel a thing.” The doctor assured. First the doctor cleaned Lana’s cuts, which stung her really bad and made Lana cry once more. Now there was a pile of wipes, stained with blood on the side of the bed. The doctor then applied the anesthetic with a syringe to Lana’s foot. He then started the stitching.
Lana looked away, turning her head, her hair covering her wet face. “Ouch, I’m scared.” Lana sobbed, her eyes were red and so was her face, her hair sticking to her face, she had a puzzled look about her. “It’s okay Lana, it’s going good. It will be over soon.” Her mother, reassuring her.
A minute later, the procedure was over. “All done Lana.” The doctor told. “Now let me put a bandage on that.” The doctor then put gauze on her foot and used surgical tape to wrap around and hold it in place. “There, that should do it.” Then the doctor got up to talk to Lana’s mother in the hallway. “We would like to keep her here overnight to evaluate her, but she should be fine.” The doctor promised. Lana checked her foot and was happy the pain was gone.
The doctor then left and in came Lana’s mother, father, and brother, they were all ecstatic Lana was safe and calm. Everyone sat down by Lana in bed. Matthias went and grabbed the TV remote off the bedside table and putting the TV on. “I’m sad, I don’t want to be here, I want to be at the beach.” Lana protested, as she stammered and cried a little more. Just then, a news report came over the TV.
“And the Coast Guard was able to locate the shark and catch it. The shark is now deceased, it had to be euthanized. An autopsy will be conducted tomorrow morning.” The news reporter announced over the TV. “Turn that off Matthias!!!” Juan Carlos barked. “The shark is dead!” Lana said in awe. She then looked down in despair at her foot. “I really wanted to have some ice cream on the beach.” Lana solemnly said, with a trembling sadness in her voice.
That’s when a nurse wheeled in a food cart. “Here is the vanilla ice cream you asked for.” The nurse reminded. “Yay!!!” Lana said joyously. “How did you know?” she asked. “Your father had said you would want some ice cream after your procedure was finished.” The nurse informed. Lana then turned around, leaned over, and hugged her father telling him. “Thank you, I love you.”
Lana then grabbed her spoon and dipped it deep into the bowl of frozen yellow vanilla ice cream with shark gummy bears on top, pulling up a big spoon full. She then put it into her mouth and chewed, saying with rejoice. “Yummy!!!!”
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