FREE FLOATING 768 Words
Clark had visited most of the beaches on his to-do list. This was number twenty-seven and he’d been itching to get in. First though, a few careful tests needed doing before he contemplated stepping even a pinkie-toe in the water. Clark removed the pipette from his bag and edged carefully towards the shoreline. People stared. He’d gotten used to that over the past six months. Reaching down, he squeezed the rubber end and filled the tube, jumping back just in time as a wave rolled gently onto the beach.
“That was lucky,” he told himself as he headed for safer ground.
He slumped on his towel and lifted the pipette in his hand. The water appeared clear enough, he thought as he examined the innocuous liquid inside. But he’d thought the same thing before, and boy, did he regret the decision.
He’d always wanted to float the Dead Sea, and he’d made it number ten on his list. A month into his endeavour of free-floating all the main beaches across the world, he made an unfortunate discovery, which if he were honest about it, nearly killed him. After floating for five minutes, he became painfully aware he had a problem. The puss-laden lesions were a good indicator, lucky for him the sea was packed with tourists so they all heard him scream.
He’d spent three days in intensive care, and a further week being slathered with barrier cream and a stern warning to stay away from the sea before being discharged.
But Clark refused to give up the challenge. No one had ever attempted it before and succeeded. Not even Christoff Numbchuckeroffsky, or whatever his name was, had completed the task. He couldn’t fold as well. So he devised a plan, using the pipette of water, he tested his tolerance levels by emptying the tube onto his arm. It had proved a useful piece of kit and saved him countless trips to the emergency department of the local hospitals. Some people he’d met on his travels declared him insane, “why risk your life over something so petty,” they’d say, or words along that line of reasoning but not so polite.
They didn’t get it, though. They couldn’t see the brilliance behind what he strived to achieve. If he thought about it, no one did, not even his own family. They wanted to have him sectioned the moment he told them his plan.
“It’s all my fault,” his mum had wailed. “I knew I shouldn’t have taken him to join ‘The Penguins Club’.”
“You’ve got more water in that brain of yours than you have sense,” his dad had shouted at him.
Even his mates had a good laugh. But as Clark sat on the beach staring out across the bay, he knew he’d made the right decision. Whose laughing now, he thought.
Fine, his challenge wouldn’t make the front pages or end up being discussed in minute detail on the news, or be the most talked about subject on chat shows, but it meant something to him. Anyway, he wasn’t doing it to become famous.
He emptied the pipette onto his skin and waited.
A mild tingling prickled at his pores, nothing he couldn’t handle though. He rummaged through his bag and pulled out a large tub of Vaseline. Unscrewing the cap, he dipped his fingers in and scooped a large glob and began rubbing it over his skin. The process took fifteen minutes; the hardest part was covering his privates without being noticed. He learned his lesson in Thailand when he nearly got arrested for indecent exposure. “Man, had that one been hard to explain.”
Finished, he threw the tub back into his bag and jogged down the beach to the shore. He took a deep breath, stepped into the water and stopped, mentally checking off beach number twenty-seven, and the last on his list in Malaysia.
He felt another prickle between his toes. “Better get this over with,” he mumbled and continued his walk into deeper water.
Certain he was far enough out, he laid back and took his favoured floating position, the starfish. His gaze firmly planted on the cloudless, blue sky above, he let his thoughts meander to the next country on his list. Indonesia. After that Australia, he thought and closed his eyes.
No one knew what became of Clark. Some say he found a new purpose and was happily living the ‘Life of Riley’ somewhere. Some even thought a shark must have got him and his bones lay strewn on the ocean bed. Others, well they thought he had just simply, drifted away.