We were at our yearly reunion in Montauk – three college friends and me on a break from our husbands and kids. 

My friends wanted to take the ferry from Montauk to Block Island and return the next day. I’d been there before and it was exactly like Montauk. I suggested we do something different like rent a sailboat or go hang gliding but I was vetoed.    

“This is great!” I thought, relishing the idea of being able to do something by myself. 

After lunch I decided to take our inflatable raft down to the water – spend some time working on my tan then check out that new restaurant in town. The raft was no frills – a nylon ladder, a paddle and a 15 foot docking rope.    

As I paddled out of the harbor, people waved to me from nearby waterfront restaurants and fishing boats. Clearing the jetty, I stopped paddling and let the ocean swells carry me out to sea. I stretched out as the sun danced off the water and the waves lulled me to sleep. 

When I awoke I was surrounded by a darkness so pitch black I couldn’t see a thing, not even my hand in front of my face. There was no moon or stars and I had no idea where I was. The sea was relatively calm and I thought perhaps I could try to paddle the raft until I caught a glimpse of light but the darkness was so intense I was afraid to move. My skin felt burned and my mouth was incredibly parched. 

I heard it before I felt it – a surging rush of water quickly approaching me. I blindly searched for and found the inner ropes of the raft and held on tightly. Then it was upon me – a huge wave heaving me forward and pulling me back again. I have no idea how long the surges continued – hours, perhaps only minutes of being tossed about like a rag doll – but I managed to keep my grip and stayed afloat in the raft. 

Just as the waters calmed I became aware of something butting the side of the raft. There it was again! I felt it half in the raft, large and slimy, and I instinctively reached for the paddle which was secured in place. Blindly I swung at whatever this creature was until I finally made contact. Somehow it made its way into the raft and I pounded it repeatedly until I knew it was dead. I scampered as far away as I could and curled myself into a ball. 

“Ahoy!” I squinted in the sun at a nearby fishing boat. Ahoy! Do you need help?” 

“Yes! Can you give me a tow?”

“Sure but it would be easier if we untangled your raft from this pier and you paddled to the beach 100 feet away. By the way, sure looks like that inflatable dolphin got some beating!” the fishing boat captain chuckled.   

Mortified, I paddled away to peals of laughter. 

NAR © 2019

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