Swimming Lessons
Swimming Lessons
    By Athena
    Sam stepped onto the beach
from the sidewalk that ran from the parking lot. It was an early
Friday in June and the place would be swarming with kids and
families on vacation soon. For the moment, however, he was alone on
the beach. He tiptoed carefully across the already-warming sand,
cautious not to step on any of the jagged shells.
    He admired the beauty of
the beach this morning. He took a deep whiff of the salty air and
closed his eyes. Some days the air was full of the smell of decayed
things, but today, everything smelled clean. He opened his eyes and
continued his walk toward the guard station. He scanned the waves,
paying close attention to the height of the breakers. The tide was
coming in, not that it mattered on this stretch of beach. The waves
themselves were unusually calm today. Sam sighed; it was going to
be an easy day.
    Coming to the base of his guard station, Sam
fished in his pocket for the padlock key. He climbed the steps up
to the door and unlocked it. He hung the padlock and the key on a
nail inside the shady refuge.
    He opened the cover that
shut up the tower at night, giving him a full view of the
coastline. He pulled a pair of binoculars down from a shelf and
made a quick sweep of his section of the beach. There was nothing
dangerous or particularly interesting out there today. It was just
a matter of waiting for the inevitable crowds.
    He put the binoculars down
and set up his folding chair. He sat back on the chair, propping
his feet up in the window. He rested there for the next half hour
as several families arrived on the scene, carrying blankets,
coolers, umbrellas, and all manner of beach toys. There was a group
of four teenage boys, all carrying body boards. Sam shook his head,
as he already knew how that was going to work out. The waves were
too calm for body boarding, at least too calm for his
    About a half an hour after
he had arrived, a group of four college-aged girls walked past his
tower. He heard one say conspiratorially, "he's pretty cute," as
they walked past. Sam smiled. Most days, he could have his pick of
the girls and young women who spent their days here enjoying the
sun. Right now though, he was content to sit back in his chair and
scan the beach and waves.
    The group of boys had
their body boards out, but they were quickly finding that the waves
weren't strong enough to push them anywhere. Instead, they were
trying to splash each other by smacking their boards into the
waves. Occasionally, one would jump on another and dunk him. Sam
didn’t care, so long as they didn’t get carried away.
    The group of girls were mostly just standing
there in the waves, squealing like children when the little
foot-high waves broke against their butts or backs. Some of them
were walking out slowly, seeing how far they could get and still
touch bottom. The girls were in water up to their chins now, so Sam
figured they would come back in soon.
    A family with two very
young children had just set up their base right below Sam's
station. One of the children wanted to run off into the waves, but
was instead scooped up by the mother and placed into a playpen.
"Who brings a playpen to the beach?" Thought Sam to himself.
Apparently the child had similar thinking, because it immediately
started crying uncontrollably.
    The boys with the body
boards had come in and set their boards in a pile. Now they seemed
to be digging for something. With no one else in the water, he was
able to focus on the four girls.
    The girls who had been up
to their necks had found a sandbar and had climbed up on top of it,
since now it appeared the water only reached their waist. Some of
them continued out into deeper water, while one girl remained
behind on the sandbar. The other girls paddled around in the
very-calm deep water for a couple of minutes, then they returned to
the sandbar. All of them started heading back to

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