Chapter 10: Marooned

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Author's Note (Feb 2018): So I usually don't add these notes to the beginning of a chapter (and in this book, I tried not to add too many even to the ends), but I keep seeing the same comments and wanted to address them. You're right and I'm sorry. Ana's characterization in Chapters 10, 11, and 12 got away from me in this original draft. She does some pretty stupid things and acts out of character. I promise to fix this in a future edit. Which you may have access to soon. I may have said too much ... ;) And now, chapter 10 ...

I'm prepared to die.

There's no use for me to struggle against the ocean; I'm just a small, temporary obstacle in its path.

For some reason, however, my body has other plans.

My arms move on their own accord, clawing their way through the cold surf. My legs act like vestigial fins, helping to propel me above the depths.

Just as I think I've made it, another wave pushes me back down. My lungs are heavy and I feel my life slipping away.

There's a tug on my shirt. My head breaks through the previously impenetrable surface and I manage to get a half breath of salty air. I open my eyes, but the darkness blurs the line between sky and sea.

I've stopped moving, yet I'm not sinking again. I find myself draped over a thick line of rope, with two buoyant barrels on the ends. The seas are rough and I don't dare stir, lest I slip off. I move in unison with the waves, bobbing up to the top of swells and down to the base of the valleys.

The rain is still pounding on my already soaked head and the wind hurts my ears. I gag and spit out seawater, but another wave fills my nostrils with the salty liquid once more.

This agony continues for a very, very long time.

Eventually, the wind subsides and the sea calms. I manage to turn my head and confirm I'm not alone. In spite of my weariness, I find solace in the realization.

My companion is facing away, and my mouth is too parched to call to him. Instead, I rest my head on my shoulder. I continue to do nothing, letting the tide carry us.

The sun eventually rises over the horizon, casting a cascade of reds and oranges across the water. Just when I feel like I can no longer hold myself on the crude buoy, my toes scrape something solid.

With the gentle current continuing to propel us forward, my feet bump into more impediments. Looking down, I see that the previously dark, impenetrable abyss has turned into a shallow, crystal clear wonderland.

A turquoise glow reflects the increasingly bright sunlight, highlighting the myriad of colors beneath. Corals in all shapes and sizes – some smooth and round, others thin and scraggly – create a magical environment for various fish and other creatures.

As I watch, the bank of sea life suddenly disappears and soft, tan sand takes its place. It's a good thing, too because by now, my knees are dragging on the seabed. Finally, with two pushes from the foamy, white waves around me, I wash up on the beach.

Thank you, Lord!

I dig my fingers into the wet sand, grateful to be on solid land. Oddly, I still feel like I'm moving. The constant motion I've experienced for almost half a day is still playing tricks on my mind.

The water laps at my feet, the gentle splashes masking its potential for destruction.

Another sound – a faint groan from nearby – catches my ear. Pushing myself a few inches from the ground, I turn until I see its source.

Just feet from me, still clutching the barreled rope, lays the man who saved me. His face is almost completely covered by wet, dark blonde hair, but even that can't completely hide the tell-tale scar running down his left cheek.

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