Dec 02
jessie.daigle's picture

Shark Week

When I was younger, maybe seven or eight, I made the lackadaisical mistake of watching Shark Week, which aired in the heart of summer. The temperature was always well above eighty degrees, and I was permanently sticky, sweaty, and uncomfortable. The only way to escape the heat was to swim- to feel even a second of that cold euphoria of lake water, that was paradise.

But, aforementioned, I watched Shark Week with my older brother, unaware of the consequences to come. I remember sitting on our sweaty, damp, smelly couch; the pitiful air conditioner, failing at it’s job of keep us cool; my eyes glued to the TV, which played episode after episode of shark attacks and survivor tales. I remember hiding under my blankets at night, telling myself that sharks didn’t live anywhere near Vermont.

A few days after Shark Week ended, when the heat became unbearable, we decided to go swimming to cool off. I hadn’t thought about sharks in days, and the water seemed as good as ever. The fifteen minute drive to a nearby lake felt like a clammy eternity.

After my mom parked the car, I ran to the beach, threw down my towel, and nearly sprinted into the water. But, before I could do so, my mom snatched me up and lathered on the sunscreen. Then I had to wait for it to settle in or whatever, which felt even longer than the ride over did. The cool touch of the water was mere yards away, and I was stuck on the hot sand, waiting. I grew envious of the other kids, splashing around in the nearby water. Every time someone ducked their head underwater, I imagined that it was me, savoring the brisk, undersea heaven.

Eventually, my mom gave my siblings and I the go-ahead, and was raced to the water, certain that our thirst for comfortability would be quenched in the lake water. We were not wrong.

I swam around in the shallow end for a while, gleefully relieved from the hot weather. One of my brothers proposed that we swim out to the dock. I agreed, hesitantly. Shark Week had yet to cross my mind, but the idea of drowning did. I was not a very strong swimmer, to say the least. But, the thought of actually jumping off the dock was too good to resist. The games we played, the cannonballs, too fun to turn down.

My mom stayed on shore with my younger sister, while my two older brothers and I headed out. They were much better swimmers than I was, but agreed to stay with me. Mom’s orders.

The distance from the shore to the dock is maybe ten or fifteen yards, depending on the recent rainfall. It was a manageable task, but then I got thinking.

I wore goggles so I could easily swim underwater. Another casual mistake made by seven-year old Jessie. The first time I went under, Shark Week immediately rushed back into my mind. Did sharks live in lakes? My brain was scattered and I couldn’t remember. Boy, that was some motivation. I swam faster than ever, my muscles burning, my mind racing, and my heart fluttering.

Ever since then, sometimes, if I let my mind go while I’m swimming, I think back to that summer. And, still, my heart will skip and beat, the adrenaline will start pumping, even though I know, shark’s don’t live in Vermont. Some fears are hard to break.

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