Fear of the Sea

David feared the sea ever since the day his dog drowned. Kitson, a smelly black labrador, was the childhood family pet. At the tender age of eleven, David stepped out into his parent’s sunny backyard to discover the dead animal, stiff as a board, and face down in a bowl of tepid water.

Traumatised, David’s impressionable young mind filled with an endless chain of morbid possibilities. If a meagre bowl of water could claim the life of a medium sized dog, imagine what unthinkable horrors the sea could potentially unleash. He trembled at the thought.

As David grew, so too did his watery phobia. It poisoned his personal life, and ruined relationships. A previous girlfriend, Maria, was a fiery Spaniard. She laughed her way back to Madrid when she found out.

“How pathetic. A twenty seven year old man should know how to swim!” she stated, “He should not be afraid of the sea. What if I am drowning? Who would dive in and save me then?”

“I can’t always be there to not save you, Maria.” he replied, like a fool.

Maria’s next boyfriend, Todd, an Australian lifeguard, had no such issues.

David tried on numerous occasions to confront his fears head on. Once, wearing only swimming trunks and goggles, he drove over two hundred miles to the coast. Arriving full of good intent, he bounded like a rampant gazelle across the sand towards the water, leaping sunbathers in bikinis and narrowly avoiding a collision with a toddler as he went. David never reached the water. Instead, he awoke on the floor, with a mouth full of sand, and a small crowd watching with intrigue as an elderly gent, wearing an obscene pair of yellow Speedos, rolled him into the recovery position. There was no dignity in this affliction.

He tried courting a champion surfer named Julie. With sun-bleached blonde locks, and bronzed glowing skin, she commanded the waves like Neptune. This siren’s song was too strong to resist. Wasting no time, and plenty of money, he bought a surfboard, stole a wetsuit, and strutted like a peacock around the popular surf shacks in an attempt to catch her eye. The plan was a success, until she suggested they should “Go catch a few waves together.” David’s heart sank. He made his excuses and never returned.

David and Julie’s paths did cross twice after that, if only accidentally. The first time at the gym, near the rowing machines. The second, at a party, near the vol-au-vents. He hid from her on both occasions.

Sometimes, when David was feeling low, he wondered whether he actually needed to have the sea in his life at all, or those people who forced him to embrace it, or, if Kitson even drowned in that bowl of tepid water — he was a very old dog after all.