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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 27, 2013


"Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. 
But that was the thing I was born for."
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

I'll be 38 tomorrow and I still have my baby blanket. It was given to my mother as a gift at her baby shower. I don't drag it around town behind me or take naps with it or anything, but I know where it's at and what it means. It's folded neatly in my bedroom closet.I'd like to be buried with it.
I get my sentimentality from my mother.
This afternoon, she was sorting through and organizing some of her things, attempting to determine the sentimental value of these objects and the memories attached to them.
She came to me to tell me she'd found something, something I wrote, something she thought I should read, something I should then give some thought to.
I asked her what it was.
She handed me a few pieces of paper.
It looked like a walked upon origami figure within an undelivered love letter left for dead and gone and forgotten for nearly a quarter century in some crushed Catholic schoolboy's back pocket. 
I unfolded it and when flattened, the vertical and horizontal creases formed a crooked cross upon each of the 3 wrinkled loose leaf pages that curled yellow at the corners. 
I didn't remember writing this.
But I recognized my own writing.

Untitled, 1990

As the shark circled him for what seemed to be the hundredth time, Keith took a deep breath, not knowing if it would be his last. He prayed that it wouldn't be. In what he thought would be the final moments of his short life, he started wishing. Wishing for another chance. Wishing he could take back some of the things he had done, and wishing he would have a chance to do things he never had a chance to do in this life, that in moments, would be cut short by this monster.
     If he only had the chance to tell his parents he loved them for the last time. He wanted more than anything to thank them for the giant party they had thrown him the night before. His sixteenth birthday party. If he only had more time. If he only had the time to embrace his girlfriend one more time. It was at this moment in his life that Keith realized all the things he had to live for.

     Keith asked himself why he was there anyway. He thought back one year earlier to the 1989 Southern California Spearfishing Championship competition. The outcome was Keith coming in as runner up. But second was never good enough for Keith, despite being the youngest diver in the competition. He wished he had taken his loss like a man. But instead, he wasted all of the last year vowing to win it next year. All his free time was spent diving. Now he wished he would have moved on, and instead of spending the time diving, he now wished he would have spent that precious time with his family and girlfriend.
     But he was here now, and he couldn't change that.
     He was here, at the 1990 Southern California Spearfishing Championship, with none of the other divers or emergency boats in sight. He was all alone.
     The shark circled again and again.
     During this 45 minute confrontation, the minutes felt like hours to Keith. His feet were constantly moving to keep him above water. He didn't know how long he could keep this up. There were moments when he just felt like giving up. This was torture.
     The shark began to swim in smaller circles around him. It was closing in.
     Keith's heart started beating so fast he thought it was going to jump out of his chest. He laid his hand on his chest to feel his heart. Under his hand he felt something cold and metallic. It was his crucifix. The crucifix he was given by his parents for his birthday. He gripped it with all his strength.
     The shark started to come in after him. When Keith saw this, he closed his eyes, gripped his crucifix and prayed a silent prayer, waiting to be taken.
     A minute went by. Then another minute.
     He was too afraid to open his eyes. He then felt a great sense of calmness. He slowly opened his eyes and the shark was nowhere in sight. He slowly relaxed his hand from the crucifix. He then heard a faint sound behind him. He slowly turned to see an emergency boat less than fifty yards away approaching him.
     The torture was finally over.
     Now he would have the time he had been praying for.


I still didn't remember writing it. 
I had no idea what it was for
If it had been an 8th grade English assignment, it was never turned in. 
It had not been titled.
It had not been dated.
It had not been graded.  
No A+, no F, and nothing in between.
And despite my many mistakes, no red marks.

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