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Notes from the Undiscovered

A Shore Uncharted

ITALY | Friday, 15 May 2015 | Views [91] | Scholarship Entry

Stunned, I fall heavily onto the sand, tiny grains sticking to my wet skin. Glancing back to sea, I notice I still have palpitations. I scan over the events of the last two hours and ponder what brought me here.
Over the Piazza, up the steep little street behind the gelateria. The parting in the trees, the uneven steps carved into the cliff. Not a huge trek, but ducking under the rope on the staircase transported me to another realm. The jade lagoon was protected by steep rock faces, guarding my precious discovery from the rest of the world. This was, unequivocally, a hidden gem.
Upon plunging in, I’d found that the sea was as shallow as it looked. As I ventured further, I thanked myself for having the presence of mind to buy a snorkel. I’ll never know how long I spent chasing the fish, admiring their rapid tangos and waltzes. Surfacing to readjust my goggles, I felt something smooth brush against my leg. Gross, I thought. I hadn't noticed seaweed. I twisted, trying to find the tangle so that I could fling it away. Instead, I froze. It wasn't seaweed. Something grey was swimming near me. What was that? Feeling fear rise, I tried to catch another glimpse of The Thing. There it was again. Hot panic flushed over me. Had I made a big mistake when I ducked that rope? Was there a reason nobody came here? Nightmare visions blazed in my mind. Horror stories about shark attacks in the Mediterranean. I could feel my laboured breathing in the struggle to stay calm. Pulling down my mask, I took a deep breath. The sinister shape was five feet from me, blocking my path to shore. Determined to look fear in its cold, hard eyes, I mustered the little courage I had, plunged my head under the water, and braced myself to face anything.
A majestic stingray made its way across my field of vision. Even this animated underwater world became motionless as the beautiful animal arched its wings, fingers of refracted light tap-dancing across its smooth back. Had I not been so captivated by this bewitching creature, I’d have laughed with relief. My fears sank just like the ray’s effortless, rhythmic progression back down to the seabed. Deciding to let nature be, I swam back, dazed.
Half-smiling as I recall the encounter, I pack my things, snap some photos, and slip away. As I climb the last step of that cliff and emerge into the woods, the music playing in my head fades into the familiar bustle of Lerici town. I’ll never forget that day, and I’ll never forget my little gem of a beach.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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