Rising Tide on Plum Island
As I squeezed Allan’s arm, the pleading in his eyes tore me apart. I kissed his cheek trying to hold back, but this time the tears welled up.
“It’s almost over,” I whispered, all the while envisioning the consequences if we failed–the very last minute, water swirling around Allan’s chest, the time when I would have to send the kids back to the dunes, Allan and I left on the jetty in a rising tide. I would never leave him there alone. Dear God, what shall I do then?
“I’ve got my fingers inside the shoe, Mom…it’s mushy.”
“Good. Now grab Allan’s heel and yank his foot out. You too, Allan. Pull as hard as you can!”
Suddenly, the words shot out of Billy’s mouth. “It’s off…it’s off!”
A wave splashed hard against the rocks, showering us all as we laughed away the unbearable tension and Allan eased up his scratched leg. Billy cradled his brother’s foot in his bloody hands as if to display his trophy for winning the battle. I hugged Allan tight, so overcome with relief and gratitude I couldn’t speak. He hugged me back, then resumed his big brother role as if he had merely taken a spill.
“You saved my life, guys…hey, wanna look for horseshoe crabs?”
“I’ll race you to the end of the jetty,” Billy said. “Look, the sun is out.”
“Yowie!” the twins yelled.
Leslie and I stood on the rock where Allan had slipped, smiling at one another as we watched him limp off wearing one shoe, sunlight glowing against his striped hat.