Today I’m re-running one of my favorite vintage stories.  This story of triumph over adversity originally ran on July 17, 2009.  You can find this, and dozens of other older stories, in the Kindle version of Mountains, Meadows, and Chasms.  Now, on with the story …

 

Heidi rolled onto her stomach.  The weekend was off to a great start.  It was great to get away for a weekend with the girls – no guys allowed.  Lindsey’s uncle loaned them the use of the sprawling old beach house for the weekend.  Heidi, Lindsey, and Katie were working diligently on their tans.  After a rough few months, it was precisely what the doctor ordered for Heidi.

After Heidi’s buns were lightly toasted, she felt the ocean call to her.  She felt to urge to go for a swim.

“Hey,” she called out to the girls.  “Is anyone up for a swim?”

“Not me,” replied Katie.

“Mmrumph zstek,” said Lindsey, before resuming her snoring.

“OK, you’re missing out,” proclaimed Heidi.

It took Heidi a few minutes to locate her swim suit.  She slipped into the suit and raced toward the water.  Heidi waded through the water until it was a bit above her waist, and then she started to swim out toward the distant shore of the wide blue ocean.  Her lithe body sliced through the waves.  The swim in the salt water was refreshing.  Heidi enjoyed being in the midst of the ocean’s biosphere, with a myriad of fish species swimming around her.

When Heidi finally decided to turn back toward shore, she realized that she had swum quite far out into the ocean.  It was going to take a lot of time to get back to the shore, and she was more tired than she had realized.

Fifteen minutes after she began to swim back, Heidi felt herself go completely numb.  Ahead of her, she saw the dorsal fin of a small hammerhead shark.  She began to swim north to circle around the shark, but the shark seemed to sense her and it moved in the same direction.  She was blocked from the shore by the killer.

Heidi was unsure what to do.  She tried to move to the south, but once again the shark followed.  The shark was clearly stalking her.  Heidi had become the prey.  The shark would be more than happy to trail her back and forth and she tried to evade it.  It knew that eventually, Heidi would become tired.  At this point, she would become shark food.

Heidi was a fighter, and she was not about to give in without a fight.  She decided to become the aggressor.  She swam toward the shark.  When she was next to the shark, she attacked it with a barrage of punches and kicks, and then swam quickly away from the shark and toward the shoreline.  The shark was momentarily stunned, but quickly regained its strength and began to pursue Heidi once again.

Heidi and the shark continued this deadly game of cat and mouse.  Each time, Heidi was able to stun the shark for a short while and swim a short distance closer to shore.  The impact of her blows was lessening, however.  The shoreline was still very distant, and her energy was waning.  She simply didn’t have the strength to hold her killer at bay.

Then, in the distance, she saw it.  Something that she had encountered earlier.  If she could make it that far, she might be able to break free from the shark.

When the shark closed in on her, Heidi used nearly every ounce of strength within her to unleash a tremendous attack upon the animal.  She quickly raced away, swimming toward her target as fast as her damaged body would carry her.  As she closed in on the school of fish, she could sense the hammerhead closing in on her, mere feet away.  She felt the welcome disturbances in the water, as the small fish swam around her.

The hammerhead had a choice to make.  He could continue to track Heidi, or he could stop here and have a feeding frenzy within the large school of fish.  Heidi knew that this was not a forgone conclusion.  The fish were an easier target, because they would not fight back as violently as she did.  On the other hand, she knew the shark could sense the lessening of her strength, and her sheer human size made her a much larger meal.

As the shark took a second to ponder the situation, Heidi poured every last bit of strength into her swimming and put a bit more distance between her and the shark.  When her energy left her, she took a break from swimming and focused on simply staying afloat.  She looked over her shoulder and saw that the shark was still violently attacking the defenseless fish within the school.  Heidi felt guilty for leading the shark into the school and causing the slaughter of the fish.  However, she realized that the death of those fish meant that she would live to see another day.

The sun was dying in the west when Heidi finally struggled to shore.  She allowed her body to be dumped upon the beach by the tide.  She lay on the beach for several minutes before willing herself to her feet and struggling up toward the beach house.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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