Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WILD (11/16/17)
- TITLE: Not Quite Dinner
By Jack Taylor
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A second rogue wave wrenched the paddle out of my hand as I swiped at the stinging on my arm and chest, cradling my camera with my underarm. Drenched, desperate and fearing the capsizing of my yellow refuge, I grabbed the cockpit rim and lost my camera. “Missy!” I screamed.
My peaceful adventure, introducing my city-raised daughter to the wilds of my childhood near Telegraph Cove on the north end of Vancouver Island, quick-stepped into a nightmare.
Moments before the pod of Orcas cruised through our little cove, we were laughing at the eagles diving for salmon. We were waving at a giant cruise ship slipping past. We were ogling the endless giants reaching for the sky on rolling hills with their evergreen arms stretching toward tumbling cumulous cloud figures dancing across a blue canopy above.
My daughter’s red kayak had rolled over in the wash. She was nowhere in sight. Missy had done well in her Red Cross swimming lessons but that was in a sheltered pool – not in a frigid ocean. Not in the roiling depths trapped among the gorging pod of sea devils. “Missy!” I howled again.
I had paid as much attention to the instructor’s prompts on surviving a spill as I did to the stewardess’s little drama before the plane took off on the way up here. I’d lived here for years – nothing serious ever happened. The Pacific was wild but it had filled my early years with pleasure and fun.
My paddle swirled away on a fast flowing current in the wake of the Orcas. The red kayak stretched the distance between us. I frantically swiped at the wave tops with my hands willing my yellow kayak forward. My gut twisted as my vision lasered into the dark troughs moving up and down around me.
“Help!” I yelled into the emptiness. “Help!”
From the boardwalk pier well behind us, a powerboat engine roared into life. I turned toward it and waved as the eighteen footer’s bow jerked toward the heavens like a bronc set free.
Scanning the sea again yielded no more hope. The red kayak was still overturned and bobbing on the surface. The whales had moved on. A few salmon still jumped around us.
An eagle swooped for a fish in front of me and suddenly the red kayak righted itself. And there was Missy. Paddle in hand, soaked to the gills, but smiling in triumph.
“I did it,” she yelled, pumping her little fist. “I did what the instructor said and it worked.”
The powerboat cruised up near us and snagged onto my grab handle and lifeline at the stern. It was the instructor. “Stay where you are and I’ll tow you in,” he said. “I was watching. Someone heard your prayers.”
Missy paddled her way through the choppy surf and nestled in alongside the larger craft. “That was wild,” she said. “How did you know that would happen?”
The instructor smiled, shaking his head. “I didn’t, but it’s better to be safe than sorry in the wild. Your mom looked a little too relaxed for the kind of day it was.” He reached down and grabbed her paddle, pulling her closer to the ladder. “Those whales often come by here for a picnic and I’m glad you weren’t on the menu today. Before you get too chilled let me get you out of that cockpit and up here where there are some warm towels.”
It’s not every day you get rescued by someone who you’ll one day marry. My first husband had died in a float plane accident when Missy was two. The waters off this coast had terrified and angered me for years as she grew up.
Not until I met Jesus as the wave and storm controller did I dare to take this trip. The wildness inside me has stilled as I start to reframe the hopes and dreams of a future that is more than I could ask or imagine. Telegraph Cove holds a wild love that woos me back, Orcas and all.
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