Friday, June 11, 2010

Wet Foot, Dry Foot

That day, Beba and her daughter Maria jumped into the water to save their lives.
 
Caught between the demands and stipulations of two nations, they swam the last few yards to reach the beach on the Florida shore, eager to have their wet feet touch dry land, as required by the rules of an international game. If the United States Coast Guard had intercepted the boat they used to escape their homeland, they would be forced to return there – and to certain punishment. Managing to reach land ensured the chance to remain in the country and to qualify for expedited legal permanent resident status.
 
They made it safely that day of fear but no incidents and, despite knowing they were leaving many friends and family behind, they never regretted that decision.
 
Since their arrival two years before, Beba and Maria made a home with Uncle Mario and his family in Washington, D.C. They were happy; they were safe.
 
On the first warm day of one summer season, Uncle Mario took them and a group of friends on a hike along the Potomac River. Later, and no one could explain why, Beba slipped and fell.
 
Maria jumped into the water to save her mother's life.
 
“The calm surface is deceptive,” the fire chief said days later after the bodies were finally spotted and retrieved. “The river's currents are deadly, more so than ocean riptides. You can go down in seconds.”
 
Though it is illegal to enter the area from the park land and there are safety signs posted on both sides of the river in several languages, including Spanish, many people choose to ignore all warnings.
 
Uncle Mario will always regret that decision.

46 comments:

  1. Poor Beba and Maria... They came such a long way and endured hardships only to go like that... Nice flash.

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  2. Oh, the give and take of the universe. Nicely done.

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  3. I really liked this. Bittersweet and so well described.

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  4. I like the comparison between the two jumps, makes a neat flash. I enjoyed it, thanks. x

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  5. Maybe they just weren't destined to be on dry land. Like mermaids.
    Nice story, Marisa. Very sad, very well crafted.

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  6. Fantastic ironic contrast over the fates delivered by two different bodies of water, the smaller, domestic one turning out to be far more lethal than the global one.

    It reminded me of the ironic fate of the actor who had escaped to Hollywood from the Killing Fields in Cambodia and played the Cambodian journalist in the film of the same name, but wound up shot dead in the crossfire of an LA gang shootout...

    marc nash

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  7. This was quite the full circle that Beba and Maria went through.
    Very sad - I hope Cathy's comment stands true :-)

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  8. Oh man! To drown after crossing all that water for liberation. Never thought of that shape to irony, Marisa. Well done!

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  9. Wow, the river got them, but the ocean didn't - how ironic. Interesting storytelling, as always. I would love to sit around with you each evening and listen to the stories in your head. Luckily you do FridayFlash!

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  10. i like this, alice. i do. it's slightly different than your previous ones, so i enjoyed the surprise of subject and content.

    i wish it could be more than a flash--great description.

    something about putting feet in water, really resonated with the entire storyline.

    gratitude for sharing.

    annie

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  11. Lots of levels here. Nicely done, Marisa.

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  12. Tragic. Just because we manage to escape one tragedy, doesn't mean that we are immune from future ones.

    Your post is incredibly timely. On the news just last night a man rescued his two children from a river here in Oklahoma. Sadly though, he lost his life to the very same river. Like you say here,
    “The calm surface is deceptive” - it's very real.

    Great Post!
    ~2

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  13. Gosh, great ironic twist. Can't escape fate, I reckon. Your writing is beautiful. Truly excellent story.

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  14. The irony between the two jumps/ignored warnings is heartbreaking. Well done.

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  15. wow, very ironic. tight write here.

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  16. Coming from a family of Cuban refugees, this really broke my heart. At least they had a brief taste of freedom.

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  17. Poor Uncle Mario, left with his regret. At least they had a couple of years of safe and happy. That counts for a lot.

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  18. This is the irony of all ironies. They do seem to be destined for the waters. Tragic story, Marissa.

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  19. What a tragic tale, and also cautionary - take heed those who see the signs of danger and ignore them...

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  20. Such a great first line!

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  21. heart-breaking...but well-written!

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  22. Good story. Sad how they went, and sad for Uncle Mario.

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  23. Hmmm, from that first line you derived so much. The fates are an interesting subject.

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  24. Fate can be cruel. Maybe I read too much into this but I saw some "the grass is always greener" symbolism here. I enjoyed this.

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  25. Ditto Ronda. It's one of the things I like about Melville: what nature gives with one hand she takes away with the other.

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  26. Perceptive and layered. Well-done.

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  27. Very poignant...Lovely stuff.

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  28. Life can keep us off guard and not ever knowing what to expect, right?

    Sad story Marissa!:-(

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  29. Fantastic (and sad) irony here, Marisa. I hadn't thought of it, but Marc noted the contrast between the sizes of the waters and their untimate effects on the women's lives. Great story.

    It gets me thinking about a show (60 minutes?) on TV recently about the deaths of hundred of Mexicans trying to illegally cross the 'All-American' canal in S. California.

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  30. Heartbreaking and unexpected... I was surprised they successfully made land in the first part. It's really a crazy law - requiring people to risk their lives even more than they have already in order to walk ashore.

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  31. Water and danger overlapping, intermingling. Your story opens in hope and ends in tragedy.

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  32. Sad and ironic. Your story reminded me of Jose Gutierrez, a Guatemalan immigrant, who came to America, enlisted in the Marines and was killed in Iraq. After death, he earned his citizenship. What good does it do then?

    The hardships that people (all people) endure. That's the heart break. ~ Olivia

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  33. You manage to pack your flashes with so much detail and emotion. Always an enjoyable touch.

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  34. Interesting how the same action can have such different outcomes when used in different situations. So sad.

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  35. Wonderful story Mari-girl!

    You manage to put much emotion into such short pieces. The irony of their fates is something that rings too true. So sad. Well done! :)

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  36. Very sad story. The two jumps, both out of very different kinds of desperation. Nicely done.

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  37. Short and yet it carries a wide range of emotions. I like it!

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  38. So tragic, but I love the circular aspect of this... how it starts with a leap into water and ends with another. Same reasons but different ending. Wonderfully told.

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  39. I thought this packed a lot of punch. Something in the tone of the delivery -- almost casual in the description of the slip and fall and subsequent rescue attempt -- made the tragic ending more tragic still. You added weight by ... not adding any weight via voice.

    Amazing bit of work. Amazing.

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  40. Sparse but full at the same time. I feel for Beba and Maria. Great story, aged well this week! Peace...

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  41. Tragic yes, but beautifully told and the connection you made with your characters, however brief was very satisfying.

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  42. Yes, as emma says - that comparison, and the hope in one and the despair in the other ...

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  43. Excellent bookends. I wish it had ended more happily for them.

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  44. I live in the area. Gaithersburg. So I saw this sad news story about the family members that parished in the Potomac. I hope it is the last one. Nicely written.

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  45. Oh, so sad. Saved by the water, doomed by it too. My sister lives in DC, and I've been to the Great Falls several times. Many people ignore those signs every year, to tragic consequences. Such beauty, and such grief.
    ~jon

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