he lounged sleepily in the late afternoon sun, its warm, crisp rays tickling her skin. Sitting curled on the lounge chair, Emily gazed around at the tall green grasses that surrounded her on the beach, creating a cocoon in which she nestled. Over the lake that gently sprawled in front of her was a vibrant glow from the sun, which still stood high in the sky. A small rowboat, tied to the dock, teeter-tottered on the gentle waves and the forest to the east was quiet in the afternoon heat. Beautiful white clouds reached up, extending high into the sky and danced passed her, as Emily daydreamed. Water lilies sighed as the soft current lifted them, and the Cattails nodded their heads as if in deferment to the breeze that passed through.
Emily's skin tingled as a new, cool current of air rushed through her. There was a rainy scent that lingered after the breeze had passed, and Emily could feel the moisture start to fill the air around her. To the west, a few clouds remained; to the east the sky seemed much more agitated. The deep black fury of those clouds headed quickly towards her and the wind began to roar, suddenly unsettling the lake, causing the waves to become more forceful. The wind tugged at Emily's hair and she could feel the sun's rays becoming weaker on her skin.
She stood from the lounge chair and folded it in preparation for the squall that was beginning to assault the beach. Laying the chair in the now sharp sand that whipped around her feet, she urgently gathered her belongings. Fumbling to close her umbrella and fold up her towel, she went over to the dock and secured them in the rowboat. Flustered, she searched the sand for her red beach ball. Emily wondered if it had perhaps been blown into the dense thicket. She left her cocoon and entered the grasses which slashed violently at her legs until, defeated, she parted the grasses to climb out again.
Glancing once again across the lake, Emily noticed that her ball had somehow ended up on the horizon. She ran to her rowboat, climbed in quickly and pushed off from the dock. Emily used all of her strength to push against the oncoming waves and she slowly progressed forward. As the waves inhaled, her ball seemed to disappear, but as soon as they exhaled, she was able to see it again. Emily maneuvered her small boat towards her red beach ball that appeared rhythmically.
The dark eastern clouds caught up with her and there was a downpour. Raindrops drummed against the sides of the wooden boat, and water pelted her skin. Pausing for a moment, Emily looked back and watched the trees dancing frantically to the orgiastic music of the wind. When she turned to continue her search, the clouds had covered the ball, and she lost sight of it again. But then, just as suddenly, a flash of silver reached its claws across the sky as if to grab the red beach ball. Her ball reappeared from behind the curtains of the sky, in line with the sun, so that she could barely tell the difference between the two of them. Watching, as the sun began to set slowly into the lake, Emily sensed that her ball too was sinking with it.
Paddling frantically after her ball, Emily plunged into this magical new world. The water rushed over the sides, and swirled at her feet. The air bubbles twirled around her body, protecting her as she was submerged. The rays of light, breaking through the water illuminated her path. Emily found herself in awe of the marine life that inhabited the lake. They were all different shapes and sizes and their beautiful fuchsia, amethyst and golden yellow seized Emily's attention. She was careful to dodge the coral, as she watched the tropical fish swim around her and felt them through her hair. Emily had rowed herself to the bottom of the lake. She put her umbrella up so she would not get any wetter and wrapped herself in a tow, because she found it cooler below the surface. But where was her ball?
She looked up toward the sky to see if her ball had returned to the surface, but it had now grown dark and all that Emily could see were the fleeting water spiders scurrying across the lake. Meanwhile, the tiny fish were disappearing for a night's rest. Emily had also grown tired from all of the day's paddling, and so she put down her anchor, curled up with the towel covering her like her favourite blanket, and watching the last little fish scamper around, fell asleep.
In her dream, Emily watched herself unwrap the newly packaged red beach ball. It was a red as a strawberry in mid-summer and the colour was so powerful that she couldn't take her eyes off of it. It seemed to radiate throughout the whole room and her face glowed with anticipation of what was to come. She longed for the ball, as she watched herself blow it up, each breath strong and forceful. The ball expanded and expanded, growing larger and more round, stretching and threatening to pop. However, it grew until there was no more air left in the room. Since all of the air in the room had been put into the ball, Emily climbed in.
A bright glow suddenly stirred Emily from her sleep. Moving from underneath the towel, she stretched her arms into the water. It was warmer now, and was lit from the sun's rays up above, which scattered as though a prism, deep into the water. Emily pulled in her heavy anchor, took, up her paddles and as she moved her rowboat forward, she felt a smile spread over her face. Cutting the surface, there was barely a ripple as she left the splendour of the lake. The morning mist enveloped Emily as she entered. As the early sun rose higher in the sky, the mist began to lift until the entire lake was visible and there was her red beach ball. Emily reached over the side of the boat and lifted it in. Calmly closing her umbrella and folding up her towel she began to row back home, in the warmth that surrounded her. Emily paddled back, slowly and gracefully, empowered by the vibrant radiance of her favourite red beach ball.
© 2002 The Richmond Hill Public Library Board