After The Rain Nov06


Related Posts

Share This

After The Rain

Coral sat at her desk where she should be writing the ending to that too long awaited story about her recent trip to Florida, but the memory of it brought her to the verge of tears again.  Just write a conclusion and be done with it, she urged herself.  Instead she still sat looking out of the window reliving it.

The sun was throwing warm air into her room and she fought back by pulling down the shade.  Coral was not in the mood to enjoy the sun while her heart was all the way across the country in the cool Florida rain.   It had rained for most of her short stay at the Grand Hotel in Orlando.

Rain didn’t bother Jeff in fact he loved it.  He explained it right at the beginning,

“It’s because the everyday Florida rain is different.  It covers you with cool tears of joy.  You have to come out and walk in it to begin to understand what I mean.”

He took her by the hand and brought her to his side with his wide cheerful smile that warmed her more than the sunshine and almost as immediately as the light rain surrounded them, Jeff bent close and whispered,

“Do you feel what I do, the fresh air, the cool drops touching your face.  This is not a hurricane, Coral, it is not even a storm, it’s just plain and simple, soft, everyday, rain.

They came to a bench facing the sand and with a cursory brush of the damp seat, they sat and watched the gentle drops pit the sand lightly and disappear.  The water rolled in gathering the drops into the gentle swells that broke just before reaching the sand. And Jeff explained that too.

See how the Mother Ocean is welcoming back her wandering children after their adventures in the sky.  The water leaves the ocean on sunny days and travels in clouds of all shapes and sizes far and wide over the earth, but eventually they always return to the sea.”

Coral soon learned to stop fighting the misty water that landed on her and began to feel the joy that Jeff professed to find.

On the way back to the Hotel the drizzle stopped and the breeze worked to carry away what remained on the outside of  their jackets and hats.  Inside of the lobby one would not guess they had been outside while it was raining at all.

Jeff turned and lifted her into a kiss as light as the rain drops and told her he would be back tomorrow morning.  She watched him leave the building before going to her room.

That almost nonexistent kiss left her feeling as warm as the sunshine she saw this morning.  She would only be here for a week and hoped the sun would shine again tomorrow morning.

She met Jeff out by the swimming pool on her first day.  It was odd when she thought back on it.  Here she and the other visitors were splashing around in the water, swimming and diving, then it began to rain.  And they all jumped up and out and went inside… all except Jeff.

That one young man just sat there on the end of the low diving board laughing at the swiftly departing swimmers.  Coral had just pulled herself out of the water to follow the crowd, but listening to him stopped her. It was pretty ridiculous.  What were we all running from?  She didn’t know.

The laughing young man stood up and did a swan dive into the pool and came up for air right beside her.

“What’s the matter with all of those people?”  he said “Are they afraid they will get wet?’  They laughed together.  It was funny.

“I’m Jeff.”  He volunteered.  “I’m not staying at the Hotel. I come here to swim and to work.”  He continued.  “I teach swimming and diving to the little vacationing guests and sometimes I am the fill-in Life Guard.  I assume you are a vacationing guest.”

“Right.  I am. I arrived here from California late yesterday. I won a trip here by writing a short story for the Company on “Why I would like to visit Mickey Mouse’s Big Park.”

It won me an all expensed paid vacation for a one week’s stay in the Grand Hotel with everything, even two days in the very Theme Park I had wished to see.  After which, I agreed to write a second, much longer story about that joyous Disneyworld Adventure. “

“I don’t suppose you signed up for swimming lessons.”

Coral had to laugh, “No.   We swim in California too, you know.  We even have an Ocean… bigger than this one and our own Disneyland too!”

“Too bad!”  Then he apologized.  “ Forgive me, I didn’t mean… Too bad you can already swim and stuff.  I just thought it was too bad you do not need swimming lessons from me.”  Then his smile brightened and he suggested, “How about diving lessons.”

“I could use a few of those.”  Coral smiled.  Even if she had not thought so before, with this handsome young man as a teacher, she knew that of course she needed diving lessons… and very soon.

“Wonderful!  Give me your name and room number and I will sign you up.”

“Sounds great!  I’m Coral Cranston  room 212.   When do I start?”

“Anytime you want to, Lets go!  Unless you prefer to be in my morning class with a dozen five year olds.”  Coral chuckled at that thought.  How would that sound in her soon to be written Return Story?

“ I went to Diving School with Kindergarteners.”

“You mean… Go right now?  In the rain?”

“What better time could you ask for to float through the wet air?”

So by the end of the lesson Coral was doing a pretty good swan dive.  Then she invited him to have lunch with her and they talked nonstop and knew almost everything there was to know about each other by desert and coffee… almost.  The most important part of Jeff’s story was missing.

As she sat now recalling it,  she was sure then that with that wonderful beginning nothing could go wrong… but it did.

Now her Disneyworld Adventure story would probably begin with a title that Walt Disney’s team might dream up.

Coral went to breakfast hoping Jeff would be there before her.  As she slowly sipped a hot chocolate looking around at the other vacationers, an older woman asked if the seat next to her was taken.  As sadly, it wasn’t.  So Coral nodded for her to sit down.

Once the woman was comfortable and had placed her selections from the Breakfast  Bar before her and put the tray away, she looked at Coral and said

“Good morning new girl.”  Then after a sip of hot coffee, she kind of squinted at Coral to ask.

“Didn’t I see you at the swimming pool yesterday? “

“Possibly.  I was there.”

“Yes I remember now.  You were the one who stayed and swam in the rain.  You even went up onto the diving board several times.”

“That was me. I was learning to swan dive.”  Coral replied.

My goodness but you were either very brave or fool hardy.  It is dangerous to stay in water when it is raining. And standing up on the diving board… even more so.”

Coral remembered Jeff laughing at the people who got out and she smiled and said,

“Because I might get wet in the rain?”

“No, Dear, because you might get struck by lightning!   Most rain storms come from clouds that are lightening prone and that lightning goes to ground attracted by water.  And the high points are the most likely things they hit, like the tall trees, telephone poles and people standing up… like up on a diving board.  You were very lucky to come away safe after standing out there all alone being a perfect lightening target.”

“I didn’t know all of that and that fellow who stayed was not at all afraid either.”

“I didn’t see a guy.  I only saw you and worried.”

“He was teaching me to swan dive.”   Coral explained,

“Sorry I missed that, but I was reading.”  The woman went back to her breakfast somewhat puzzled by the girl’s words as she sort of rambled on.

“He said today I may get to learn how to dive properly from the High Board because he said it can be very dangerous.”  Then Coral got up and left to go get some cereal.  Watching the woman eat had made her hungry for something more than hot chocolate.

With her cereal in one hand and another hot chocolate in the other, Coral took a seat by the window to watch for Jeff.

He didn’t come and she was disappointed. So she put on her jacket and hat and decided to go out for a walk along the strand.

She sat on the same bench they sat upon yesterday and remembered his words about the water from the sea going into clouds and watched very carefully to try to see the water rising up and becoming a cloud.  Here and there way out beyond she was almost certain she could see a low cloud forming.

Then she was startled by his voice.

“I thought I might find you here.”  Maybe today you would like a lesson on swimming in that fascinating, roiling, ocean water instead of that dull pool again.”

“Do you mean now?”

“Yes, but it can also be dangerous, even though lots of fun. So pay attention.  Look out there at that line of white foam just floating on top of the choppy water, remaining a wavy line in one place… never going anywhere.”

“Yes I see it.  Is that the beginning of a cloud?”

“It can be,  but that white line on top of the deep blue, indicates a strong, Undertow. From the shore to that white line the water is pulling hard, close to the sand and dragging everything back out to the deep.  Your feet even buried in the sand will be pulled from under you going with the shifting sea floor.  Sometimes they are so strong that you fight to go ashore but you can’t overcome it and people often tire and drown struggling to get in.”

“How awful.”

“That is why you need to learn to go out and around it.  Follow the white foam by swimming behind it to the shortest end then turn inland and swim ashore around the Undertow where it stops.  It is easy enough if you haven’t worn yourself out fighting it first. Understand?”

“I think so.”  Coral answered.   Still hoping to not try it, as she remembered those Undertows.  The Pacific Ocean had them too and when they were reported, her Mom would not let her go swimming at all.

“Shall we go in?” Jeff pulled off his jeans and tee ready to run for the surf.

Coral wore her suit under hers too, but now was uncertain about going in the ocean with that Undertow foam lurking in plain sight.  But Jeff was here and he had Life guard training. so she stripped down to join him.

It was easy to swim out. The Undertow was with you, when you were following it. Getting back to shore would be the problem if there was to be one.  Coral stayed close to Jeff and swam as he did back and forth just beyond the white foamy line, looking down through the quieter clear aqua blue water at the pretty fish reminding her of their Garibaldi in the Pacific and star fish on the rocks among the fluffy  grasses.

Tiny fry hovered near the surface by the millions and gentle picturesque Jellyfish drifted with the current.  Jeff had warned her that some can give you an  awful sting, so don’t get to close to them.  Finally he turned toward shore on the South end of the Undertow line and swam easily for the sand.  Coral stayed right behind him and they dropped to their towels exhausted. Coral was impressed by his knowledge of the ocean and swimming in general.

As they rested she inquired about his Kindergarten diving class.

“Oh my but those little ones are eager.  They will try anything I ask them to do.  Only one is what you might call a little ‘fraidy cat.  But I am patient with him because in my kindergarten class I was the frightened one, so I know how he feels.”

Coral squinted her eyes narrow to protest that statement.
“Oh I can’t believe that!  You must be the bravest person I know.”

“That is only true after I learned some very tough lessons.  Like the one when I was seven.  You should have seen me before that.”

“What was the lesson?”

“A sailing lesson.  I expected to be in a boat and not have to get into the dark ocean at all. I knew fish were under that Ocean and I could not see them.  How big were they?  How big were their teeth?  So I clung to the dock while the other kids took turns swimming to the buoy with the bell that rang as it rocked in the swells several long yards away.  It was close enough to the dock for our instructor to use it as a turning spot for the kids to swim to and back, but was mainly to guide the boats in from the open sea.

Our sailing teacher said she used it as a swimming goal to prove that you were ready to learn to sail a little Sabot sail boat by yourself.

She explained that if the boat tipped over and you were suddenly swimming for your life or trying to right the boat you must be capable of swimming at least that short distance.

Jeff laughed, at his little seven year old self refusing to share the ocean with unknown fish.

As soon as all of the other little boys and girls had made their swims, they sat on the Dock waiting for me to do mine, so they could all get on with the reason we were there…to learn to sail a boat.
Our instructor lost her patience with me and yanked me from the Dock and swam with me in tow, as I was pulling and clinging to anything I could grab… the obnoxious little brat, I was, kept kicking and screaming all the way to the buoy,

Then she placed my hands upon it, which I grabbed for life, and watched her as she swim quickly back to the Dock and waited there in the water with one hand on the Dock edge. I heard her shout,

“Now swim back or stay there until the sun goes down.”  The other children were clapping their hands and cheering.  I had no choice.  It wasn’t as if I couldn’t swim.  I was one of the best in the swimming pool.  It was the giant fish with sharp teeth that could be looking at my legs right now that I was frightened of.  So I swam for my very life and made it in record time. The teacher was still hanging there dog paddling in the water.  She said very softly to me.

“Open your eyes and duck below and see if there are any fish near either of us.

I took a quick look and seeing no monsters just some muscle shells clinging to the wooden dock posts, and fish as small as my little finger. I came up and she smiled and told the class,

“Now get up on the Dock and all take a short break and return in fifteen minutes to begin to sit in the sail boats and shove off into the wind.  You’ve studied the way the sails need to respond.  Now let’s see what you remember from class.”

Jeff looked thoughtful about those olden days and admitted he was the best at never tipping over the boat.  He was determined to not go into that dangerous water again if he could avoid it.

“But look at you now!”  Coral praised him.

Exhausted by the strong swim they lay on the towels they had spread upon the sand and spoke little more , just looked at the clouds as Jeff suggested that a gentle rain would be good right now.

As if on order it began to fall.  Soon Coral had dozed off in the cool wet air.  When she awoke, she did not know how much later, Coral was disappointed to see that Jeff was gone.

She was up and looking around at the empty beach when she spotted a little note written on the smoothed sand with a stick, that read;  “See you later. J.”

As Coral was shaking the sand from her towel and gathering her few things to walk back to the Hotel, a little white cart with the Hotel Logo on the side pulled up and the driver dashed down to her side.

“Oh thank goodness I found you.  We have been worried.  You are unfamiliar with this ocean and with the huge rip tide we thought…  well,” he smiled, “It doesn’t matter what we thought now does it?  You are here in fine shape, so come on and I will give you a lift back to the Hotel.”

As soon as they were putting along, the young man looked over at his passenger and told her,

“My name is Roger Reynolds and I work for the Hotel part time all year and full time in the summer.”  He smiled and concentrating for a moment while he drove the little cart slowly over a large speed bump, then he continued,  “I know who you are, you’re that smart girl who won the “Why I want to go to Disneyworld Contest”  and the Hotel stay is one of the prizes.  They are hoping for a good report from your second story, that you will write upon arriving home.  But… “  Roger chuckled, “ That won’t happen will it, if you disappear at sea from swimming alone and getting into some under-tow trouble?”

“I wasn’t alone.”  Coral defended her actions.  “I was swimming with, Jeff, your Hotel’s very competent swimming instructor.  He taught me all about Undertows.  As You can see I am fine!”  Coral held her arms out wide for him to see that she was all there and okay.

“Oh you’re a lot more than fine.”  Roger replied looking her up and down. “You’re terrific!  If you don’t mind my saying so.”

Coral hugged her arms down to her sides and became self-conscious, but mumbled

“Thank you,” quietly at the compliment.

“When you want to stray from the grounds, where we feel happy to look after you,  tell us  and we will send someone with you for your safety. “  He looked her over again,

And added, “Hopefully me.  I’ve lived here for my entire life and would be able to show you around as well, or better than most.”

“Thank you again, Roger, but as I mentioned, I was not alone.  I had Jeff your swimming instructor with me.”

“You walked out alone, so we didn’t know.  And besides we don’t have a Swimming Instructor.”

“Of course you do.  He has a whole class of Kindergarteners learning to dive.”

“Not that I’ve ever seen.”

“Well you must be busy elsewhere then.  His name is Jeff Jensen.”

“It does ring a bell, for some reason, but I can’t place him.”  Then he cheered up and as he pulled into the driveway asked,

“Are you hungry for lunch, yet.  I’ve been told to take you to eat if you want.  And I am starved!”

“I’d like to get dressed first then meet you here in an hour.  And if Jeff shows up I’d hope he could be invited too.”

“Okee Dokee!”  he revved up the cart and drove off.

Coral walked to her room shaking her head thinking, For a guy who knows everything, he doesn’t even know the people working here.  Otherwise he’s not a bad kid and better to eat with than another out of town guest.  They all keep asking me to explain again what I wrote to win the Contest.  If I don’t,  they think I’m conceited, if I do they seem to wonder why that would win!  But honestly not anymore than I do.  I was only allowed 25 words and I used one word 5 times.  I said,”

“I live next door to the first Disneyland and I would love, love, love,  really love , love, to see what it’s Sister World looks like.”  Exactly 25 words.  Oh well, don’t blame me it was Disney’s choice.

She fixed her hair and her make-up hoping Jeff would appear.  In her best pale green sun dress she headed for the dining room.

The first person she saw was Jeff right out in the hall of her floor, and she brightened right away.  No more than that, she glowed with excitement.

“You disappeared!”  she chided him with a happy but teasing smile.

“Yes I do that a lot.”  He shrugged.  “I thought you had noticed.”

“But I was eager to thank you for the wonderful ocean swimming lesson.  You really are the most knowledgeable and bravest person I’ve ever met.”

“Sure… now I am!  But I wasn’t always.”  Jeff was so humble.

“Oh you!  Nobody is as they used to be.  Come on let’s go have lunch with Roger.

“I don’t know a Roger.”

“He doesn’t know you either, but he said I could invite you.  Let’s go!”

“Sorry I can’t make it.  Explain for me.”

“Explain what?”

“That I have other responsibilities.”

“I’ll miss you. But… well okay.”  Coral paused, hoping for another goodbye kiss so she stood still looking up at his face.  But nothing happened and she turned and walked on disappointed.  When she looked back, just in case he changed his mind… He was already out of sight.  Not seeing him in any direction she assumed he had entered a room.

“I’m not the only person on this floor.”  She told herself out loud and thought, Maybe he’s seeing a parent of one of his diving class children.

Roger had a table ready and was sitting looking around for her.  He stood up as soon as he saw her.

“I saw Jeff,”  She explained at once, “but he was busy and couldn’t join us, so it’s just we two.”  Coral told him brightly as he placed her chair behind her.”Oh thank you Sir!”  she said politely, then she saw the tidy little white bowl of violets in the middle of the table.  A quick look around proved that it was the only one.  All of the other tables had a single yellow daisy and a piece of fern standing at attention from a bud vase.

“Oh Roger, how beautiful!” Coral exclaimed feeling flattered.

“Not as beautiful as you are.”   He answered solemnly, looking a bit embarrassed.  Entertaining a Hotel Guest at lunch was obviously not his usual job.  Jeff would have been the same if ordered to be cavalier.  In a few years he will probably be as suave as they come.  She picked the whole little bowl up just to smell them.

“Such a tiny little flower, for such a wonderful strong, sweet, smell!   Aren’t Violets amazing?”  Coral commented as she replaced them. Roger relaxed and smiled.

Then as if he had just thought of it, he said,

“There’s a good double feature at the little town theatre tonight.   Will you go with me?”  Coral thought and decided,

“Why not?  But…”


“I am supposed to spend two days at Disneyworld and I have only been there once.  Will you go with me tomorrow?”

“I would love, love, love,  to.”  He quipped  Coral couldn’t stop laughing.  He sounded so funny, but so flattering at the same time that he had read her winning entry.  As soon as she calmed down he asked her a more serious question.

“Who’s your favorite movie actor?”   Coral became thoughtful at once as she sat thinking.  Did she even have one?  Finally she answered,

“Harrison Ford.  But I haven’t seen him in anything for a long time. Except, you know on T.V..   I wonder if he is still working?  You tell me yours.  Who do you like best?”

I had better like Sandra Bullock, because she is in the one playing in tonight’s movie.”  And Coral was set to laughing again. They both laughed when Coral couldn’t help but tell him that his choice sounded a bit like,

“If you can’t kiss the girl you love, kiss the girl you are with.”   A few seconds later she decided seriously, “In the female department I like Meg Ryan best.”

They spent the rest of the lunch finding out that they had many favorites in common.  Coral was surprised.  She had fallen so hard for Jeff for all of his abilities that she had scarcely looked at Roger when he appeared.

Suddenly Coral became aware of the fact that in three days she would fly three thousand miles back across the United States, so it didn’t matter if she fell for anyone on this side of the entire Country.  It was goodbye to the one she had the most in common with and also the illusive one she dreamed about.

Happily the next day Jeff knocked at her door.

“Are you ready for the next Ocean lesson or do you prefer to dive some more?”  He smiled as she pulled him inside while she explained the conflict.

“May I go tomorrow instead.  Today I must go to Disneyworld… the contest agreement you know.”

“Tomorrow it is then.  One day is very much like another to me.  I’ll find something to do.  I always do.”  This time he remembered to give her his sweet light kiss.  Once on her forehead and then down gently to her lips.”  Coral could hardly move for the next few seconds after he disappeared out the door.  She just stood still to hold the feather light feeling.

Disneyworld was twice as much fun with Roger than it had been the first day with the Big Mucky Muck, fellow from the Company, who led her around, pointing and explaining things, as if she was going to buy the place.

Coral encouraged Roger to lead her to his favorite rides first and she agreed with all of them.  Some were just like home, but others were a total surprise and she would encourage the Big business man from her first visit to get those made in California.

At the end of the day, in fact at midnight, she had her head on Roger’s shoulder most of the way home.  The Company had sent a Limo to chauffer them so neither was driving and both were tired and grateful.

However, with Coral so close, Roger was more awake than he appeared.  He held her close with his one arm and steadied her from the bumps and turns with the other.

After a sudden stop due to traffic, she slid awake and found herself wrapped safely by Roger and smiled up at him.  Now that she was awake he took a little flat box out of his pocket and handed it to Coral.

She looked up and asked,

“What is this?””

“Just a little memento of our day in Disneyworld.  She opened it and took out a tiny silver chain bracelet with some silver Disney Characters hanging from it.

“Oh how darling!  He fastened it on her wrist and she smiled  as she jingled the silver charms of Mickey and Minnie with friends.  “Look! They are all having fun dancing!”

Encouraged by the smile he lowered his head to give her a kiss.  It started out to be simple thank you kiss, but as her arms reached up to him it became a very serious and two way kiss.  They parted once and looked into each other’s eyes.  Liking what they saw, they mutually went back to improving the kiss.

Coral could not compare this kiss to those from Jeff that left her stunned by their lightness.  These were deep and meaningful, like she had never experienced before.  She pulled away and put a foot of distance between them, so she could think.  But she couldn’t.

Confused was the only word that fit.  Roger was not.  He had fallen for this California Girl from the first, even knowing she was going home.  But he had an advantage she didn’t know about.  So he backed off unwillingly on purpose, to let her catch up with him.

Roger was sure after today that she would, if he didn’t push too hard.

They parted in the limo with a good, but guarded, kiss goodnight.  Both went in happy.

Coral almost forgot that she was going surfing with Jeff in the morning.  It was still easy to get excited about that because she was, deep down, madly in love with him.  So she slept well to be rested for another busy day.

Early the next morning she was out the door.  Surfers are like that.  Early is the best time to challenge the waves, even if she didn’t know why.  Jeff probably did, she would try to remember to ask him.  But he began at once with the shark info again.

“It’s a beautiful ocean day.  Maybe we should take advantage of it and go surfing.  You do surf don’t you?”  she inquired then put her fingers to his lips and stopped him from answering.  “Wait don’t tell me. I know…  you are a World Champion!  Right?”

“Right. Three years in a row. Here in Florida, in California  and then Australia!  How did you guess?  It was so long ago that I know you didn’t hear about it.”

“It was just a feeling based on your many abilities.”

My knowledge and my ability have doubled in these years to far more than I had at your age.  Too bad that it was so long in coming.”

“You are far too humble.”  Coral told him.  But to her surprise he agreed with that also.

To be humble one must first acquire something to be humble about.  Humble and ability both arose together. Jeff explained,

“ Try to gather an equal amount of each as you grow wiser my darling Coral.”

“With you for my teacher, at least for two more days, I will do as you say.  Take a coke out of my tiny Hotel refrig. while you wait.”

However Jeff went to the window to look out up and down the coast for the surf differences.

He selected a medium surf with her ability in consideration and after borrowing two Hotel boards, they walked the short distance and went into the water at once.

Jeff had given her a short warning about being hit by one of Florida’s famous sharks.

“We have them in California too,  but I have never seen one.”  She reminded Jeff.

They are different in California.  Due to your colder water, they hang out further from the shore.  So just in case you spot one, come in to shore at once.  If you are surprised by an attack go for the eyes.  That is the only tender, vulnerable place and close to the mouth.  Everyplace else is tough and hitting only tickles those big guys… remember the eyes!”

Jeff was happy to see that Coral was pretty good on the board, so they sat side by side watching out to sea for what was going to be coming their way.  He explained that the waves came in sets usually of seven.  Even he didn’t know if it was folk lore or did all surfers just get tired of counting after seven and then sit down on their boards to start again.

Coral loved his sense of humor as he carried forward the popular thinking that surfers as a group were too dumb to count any higher.  And to prove it he called out, EIGHT, as the next swell developed.  Then laughed as he said loudly,  “Oops I made a boo boo dang it! Sorry! I mean… ONE!”

Coral just had to go along and shouted back,

“What’s the matter Big Boy, ain’t you learned yo numbers yet? While you was  a sittin there figuring it out, ONE rolled smack under you and the count is now… THREE!”

“Sorry Gal, I get so confused.  Why do we gotta count ‘em anyway?  They’re  a comin’ or they aint, “

“Just somtun’ to do as we sit awaiten ‘til them good ones get here, I ‘magine.”  Then she called louder… “Wow! Just look at what is coming now!”

Jeff saw the pair of large swells still rising and shouted quickly.

“You take the first and I’ll be right behind you on the second.”  They faced the shore  flat on their boards, ready to paddle hard as the wave picked them up.  Coral’s wave rose tall and she caught it just right as Jeff looked back for his.

But what he saw in the clear green water of hers suddenly became more important.  Off to the left, at Coral’s back, the sharp silhouette of a great white shark had his full attention.  He took off behind her a bit and paddled hard as he shouted over the waves roar,

“Shark! Shark! Don’t stand up!  Keep paddling into shore!” but the wave was breaking with so much noise, that she only stood and crouched to ride inside of the curl.

Jeff was worried that she would fall and be tumbling lunch meat to the shark.  He looked back and lost sight of the great fish, When he looked forward she had fallen and her board was flipping high and low.  The wave he was to ride broke over him and he was left behind.  As soon as he could Jeff stood to look for Coral.  Her board was almost on the shore.  But no Coral.

Then he saw her head where she was bobbing off to his right looking as if she was trying to catch her breath, but being swept under again and again by the rough water between the two large waves.  In the glass like swell of the oncoming next wave Jeff saw the  shark again or his brother and called again for Coral to swim for the shore.  But of course she was already doing that… she had lost her board  and was following it in… good!  He looked back at the shark just as it smoothly, fin up, moved toward Coral.  Jeff headed for the shark.  He had the tail momentarily just as it took Coral’s ankle in its big toothy mouth.  That damned tail slid out of his grip as if he was never there.  With a catch in his mouth the shark turned out to sea taking Coral with him.

Coral had become aware of something keeping her from swimming in and began to kick hard.  The teeth in her leg were tight and the kicking made it hurt like hell as it tore and bled.  She was able to turn enough to see what was stopping her and almost passed out from the fear jolt that shook her.

The eyes!  Jeff and said remember the eyes.  But where were they?  Somewhere down there by her foot, she bent to reach them.  The water roiled and foamed with white so she could not see a thing.  As she tried to reach the front of the shark, who was firmly attached to her as far away as possible, she forgot the pain of movement and reached for her foot and the sharks head, but it was impossible.  She gulped water as she struggled and tried to get air at the same time.

Holding her own leg firmly in one hand, she pulled it as hard as she could to bring the shark’s head within reach.  That was when she became aware of Jeff at the tail end of the shark trying to get a grip on it to force it to let go of her.  She felt the half open mouth with her hand as she was being tossed about by the Shark’s wrestling match with Jeff.

The eye must be there someplace.  If only she could see. They were tumbling in a bloody foamy muddy, mess.  She felt them all rise together as another swell lifted both of them and the shark up high,  The shark was the strongest, so with only a stroke or two he began to swim beyond the tossing surf.

The pain in her ankle made her wonder if he was going to bite her foot right off.  She fought even harder to reach an eye.   Maybe she had touched it, if only briefly, it felt like tough rubber covered with plastic and she reached again trying to get her polished finger nails to do their job of at least making the darn shark so distressed that it would let go of her.

And that was what it did.  Her foot was finally free and still attached to her leg. but the hand that had done the damage to his eye was now dangling from the arm the shark now held in his teeth.

He pulled her with him out to deeper water just beyond the waves.  Jeff was riding along as he clung to the top fin trying to get the shark to release Coral.  Both were only briefly high enough to catch air as the shark rolled dragging the two of them from the top where they gasped for oxygen and back down where they held their breath again.

The shark was fighting for it’s food, while they both fought for air and life.  Coral only had one hand now to search for the eyes.  But she was closer to that eye.  In fact she often saw it looking at her.  Then she found Jeff’s hand.  He had moved up and was trying to get her arm loose from the shark’s mouth.  Somehow he had picked up a stick and was prying the shark’s mouth with it, but it broke so he left again to swim to the bottom looking for something to fight with.

Rocks were plentiful so he took a heavy one and went after the shark with it.  His most important aim was to get Coral free before she drowned.  After smacking an eye with as much strength as he had,  he hit the side of the large mouth and even broke a few teeth.  But the shark had plenty more, which he learned now as the irritated shark dropped Coral’s arm to turn on him.  The shark took a firm bite into Jeff’s arm up high by his shoulder then he swam deeper. Just as Coral was suddenly free to began to swim to the land.

Her last sight of Jeff was of the diving sharks tail and Jeff’s bare legs following the huge animal down as the struggle continued out of her view.

Somehow she made it to shore and pulled up on the sand dragging a trail of blood from the bleeding leg and arm.

What happened after that she had no way of recalling.  After Jeff and the shark were gone she was devastated and passed out from the shock of fear and loss of blood.

Waking up in the hospital was her next memory.  Her Mom and Dad were even there, all the way from California.  They were talking to a young man she was trying to place.  Did she know a Roger?

She was mostly aware that Jeff was not there and no one had to tell her why.  Jeff being carried deep would be in her memory forever.

She had slept though the stitching and sewing of her leg and arm and now only saw the casts that held them.  Everyone kept telling her how lucky she was and how brave to fight that big shark off by herself.

“But Jeff,”  she would start to tell them how he had saved her, then choke up and stop.  Coral simply could not talk about him yet.  No one needed to tell her what had happened to him, she knew. But they discussed him anyway.

Two doctors came in with two policemen and two fishermen.  The room began to look like a party was happening.  But it wasn’t.  Everyone of the faces wore a serious look.

The fishermen began,

We searched long and hard for your Jeff, but he was never found. But…” they smiled, “The shark was.  We caught a blind shark five miles off shore.  We were wondering how he was blinded, when we read this.  They handed her last week’s paper and there with a picture of her was a headline that read,

“Cal Girl fights off Florida shark and wins.”  We know who blinded him now because we found this inside of him.  The other man took something out of his shirt pocket and held it up.  It was a silver chain with Disney characters on it.  Your boy friend, Roger, identified it.  He handed the bracelet to Roger, who fastened it back on her one cast free wrist.  Coral was torn between smiling and crying.

Roger was waiting for Coral to be out of the hospital and ready to return home to California with her parents to let her know that he was being transferred to the Grand Hotel  now being built in the Century City section of Los Angeles.

But it was Roger who had set the search for Jeff in motion.  Coral had mentioned him so often as being an employee of the Hotel. that he wanted to meet this competition that kept eluding him and was seeing her.

She told him at Disneyworld that the next day she was going surfing with the guy. The next time he saw her she was comatose in the hospital and Jeff had not been found. The fishermen left after being thanked by all.  Next it was the Policemen’s turn.

They also began with a newspaper, but they held it up, then kept it while they explained.  The senior officer began by explaining that they had been trying to find her friend Jeff.  A body never turned up.”

Coral didn’t think it would as she mentally replayed the last she saw of him, which would forever bring tears.  She listened as the Officer went on,

“But by searching for his name, we found this…  There was a very good picture of Jeff right on the front of the copy of a yellowed newspaper, which had been copied by a copy machine and this was that white paper showing a very yellow old page that would have disintegrated if they had handled the original.  The second Officer took over to explain.

“No one has seen him, but you, we needed your confirmation that we had the right man. So are you sure?”

“Yes that is Jeff or his twin brother.”  she smiled wanly.  The Officer with the newspaper pulled a chair close to her and sat down.

“Now this is a rather strange story so stick with me if you can.  This young man in the paper, graduated from our High School and worked at the Grand Hotel after school and for a couple of summers.”  He held up another photo.  “This is his Graduation picture.”

“He looks just like that now.  He hasn’t changed a bit.”   Coral volunteered.

“Okay then now is the strange part.  He graduated and became a headline in this Newspaper, in, look at the date on the paper, 1924.  Now being 2014 makes it exactly ninety years ago that he died in an unfortunate accident at age 18.  If he was alive, he would just now celebrate his 108th birthday.  But if you read the Newspaper you will learn that he died in 1924 while practicing a very difficult dive from the tower high board at the swimming pool of the Grand Hotel, where he worked.  He hit his head as he passed the low board when he flew off course doing that usually graceful but always difficult dive.

“But I…”  Coral stopped, that was clearly Jeff and he had told her so much and taught her so very much.  Was she delusional or was he really with me like a spirit or a ghost?  She could never deny his existence.  The information he gave her was real!

Every word he spoke to her made more sense now and even those feather kisses.  Even from where ever he was in the universe, he admitted that he was still learning.  No one in this room would believe she had seen him exactly as he looked when he died… the first time.  What became of him when he had gotten her loose from that shark.  Please, she whispered to herself, don’t anyone try to tell me I got away from that shark by myself.  I could never have! I know who saved me.

Whoever is going to tell me I recognized his photograph any other way than meeting him in person can save his breath.  She took the papers the Officer handed her and said Thank you, but Coral knew what she knew, plus all she had learned from that very intelligent man and how he had managed to do that was his secret, a secret we all shall learn someday… when we are 108…  or maybe many more.