A Day at the Beach
by Eva Roa White
Though I grew up in Switzerland, my family spent our summers back home in Galicia visiting my maternal grandmother in A Coruña. We usually swam in the urban beaches, though on special occasions we took a bus to my favorite swimming spot where, perched on a hill, a grove of fragrant pine and eucalyptus trees overlooked the wild ocean.
On this particular outing, there were six of us: myself, my cousins Nando and Pili, my sister Loli, my mother, and my grandmother who preferred to rest among the trees and never joined us down at the beach because of her hip. She couldn’t manage the hundreds of steep stairs plunging to the yellow sand and white surf. On the way down, we could see other day-trippers eating and drinking at the merendero, roosted halfway to the beach below. We, however, ate and drank from our own picnic baskets full of jamón Serrano and Spanish tortilla sandwiches and big bottles of lemon gaseosa. As usual, I began counting the steps down to the beach, but soon lost track, my attention captured by the roar of the sea.
Northwestern Spain has dangerous beaches with a strong undertow, but we children blissfully played and chased each other in the high waves, not a strong swimmer among us. Until, in mid-squeal, the water engulfed me. Confused, swallowing water while trying to find a toehold in this watery tornado, I screamed silently for my mother. In answer, I felt a slippery but strong grip on my arm. Nando, who could barely swim himself, stole me from the swirling water before I was taken out to sea while Loli and Pili watched.
We didn’t tell.
PHOTO: Postcard of La Coruña beach, Galicia, Spain.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a true story, reworked as an excerpt of a larger piece, which has already been published.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eva Roa White was born in A Coruña, Spain and raised in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is at work on a memoir, Back to Galicia. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Page 47 Online Anthology, Transnational Literature, disClosure, Natural Bridge, Marco Polo, Buhito Press, The Common, Unbroken, and Sonic Boom.