Ground, in Water | Kate Gillespie

A late summer hurricane was coming in, making its way slowly up the shore.

I could feel the air moisten and sodden, hours before the thunder erupts.

Another clue is the wind being sucked out slowly and steadily, its departure pushing down the tops of the trees in an easterly direction.

There are “special” kinds of folk, shore storm watchers, who come to view the eminent natural fury like a spectator sport. Late days with the wind up like this bring them out in all their glory: binoculars and beer gripped in tanned hands, cheesy windbreakers flapping, their butts nestled in beach chairs ranged along the shore to watch in respectful awe and anticipation of the incoming rising waves.

But on this last day of summer, I had waded brazenly in.

To experience the power, to test the water, to know my self limits.

I needed to let the angering water take its best shot.

So there I half crouched, letting my low center of gravity keep me anchored. Wide hips set deep, me against the growling ocean. My body felt the crazy undertow grip at all my submerged muscles, the liquid push and pull. The gravely wet sand flung under me scoured my skin half raw. The sea salt stung as it was lathered and spread up and down my haunches, over and under my swimsuit. I squinted against the spray and took a deep breath in, best for optimal clenching of everything from the waist down. Damn tight twat, but still felt the watery pain. It reminded me of day one of a burning week-long urinary tract infection.

Yet, I did not waver. Just crossed my arms and stared down the glowering grey horizon.

Hearing a steady confident tread on the beach behind me, I turned my head slightly to the left side to get a better look. An uber-athletic woman came into view, with a silver sports cycle perched on her shoulder, moving purposely and smoothly to arrive at the water’s edge.

This graceful goddess of sport, blue eyes and flaxen hair, all lean of limbs and tit, seemed straight from the cover of Women’s Adventure Magazine.

She set down her metal steed, daintily pulled and patted her Speedo body suit crotch into place, coolly adjusted her goggles and dove elegantly into the waves. The waves fiercely and mockingly spit her right back out, on her back and eagle spread as she skidded across the sand.

I could hear her surprised squeal, like a cute frustrated kitten. I bit my smirk, and hunkered down for the next onslaught, in a stance much like an expectant silverback gorilla. It held me steady and sure. I watched impassively as two, three, five times, again and again she tried to breach the breakers. This iron thrill chick was determined to swim into the ocean as she thought was her right. Eventually she stopped. Collected her equipment, straightened her rack, shouldered her bike and left with an air of forced nonchalance. All the while reminding me of how a spoiled cat would try to act like, bouncing face first off a wall while pouncing after a laser pointer.

I grunted in satisfaction and bared my teeth in a birthing woman’s smile.

The ocean is not a Bally’s gym. The storms nature creates and rubs out onto land are not some advanced workout for the physical elitists.

The true ocean is deep and deadly, wide and wicked.

The true ocean makes no bargains and breaks all promises.

If you choose to step up, you do so alone.

And alone, you must stand, dig strong into its floor, and hold your position against it.

Never, ever be swayed nor stoop to its level.

So there I stood, against it. Wide hips deep.

I know how to be well grounded, even in water.

Kate Gillespie is a microbiologist getting her creative mojo on. Her foot in the door was joining Follow the Buffalo Writing Workshop, a critique group in Baltimore, MD. Some of her poetry is included in the group’s 2011 anthology, and she was recently published in Baltimore’s Urbanite magazine. She has also participated in the Last Rites Baltimore reading series. The current focus of her work is on humor micro-fiction, speculative fiction, and short plays.


Nonfiction for the restless soul. Published online quarterly.

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