Ponte Vedra, FL – April 5, 2013
I don’t remember how many days it has been. Most of my life feels like a distant memory. The day my father left us for the north and promised to return, the days spent in the garden center, the green lawn in the Florida sun, they all seem like a dream now.
But the fateful storm replays every night in my mind. I don’t think it will ever fade. I still feel the rushing water, the wind, how desperately I hung on to the grass, how I slipped away, off the edge, and over into the ocean.
I remember the days spent floating, the way the sun baked overhead, how my heart stopped every time a fin broke the surface. The long nights in the dark water.
I drifted for days, weeks maybe, the color bleaching out of me in the sun. When I landed on the edge of a forest, I thought I was saved. But no one came. No one came for days.
Then I saw the yellow kayak and tried to signal, but fallen branches and roots pinned my limbs. I could only watch as it slipped past, my hope fading with each stroke.
“They do not see me,” I thought. “I am lost. I am lost.”
Then the boat turned and I did not dare believe, but it turned and came close and a man splashed out into the water. He pulled branches off me and took me up in his arms, carrying me back to the boat.
That is when I heard the voice I thought I would never hear again.
“Junior!” it called out. “Junior, is that you?”
I thought it was a ghost, a mirage of my salt-soaked mind, but it kept calling.
“Junior! Junior!” it said.
“Dad!” I answered. “Dad, you’re alive!”
“Junior!” my father yelled.
“Wait, you know this guy?” the man said.
“Of course I do,” my father said. “It’s my son, Frank, Jr.”
The man looked at me for a moment then sighed.
“What’s one more flamingo,” the man said. “People already think I’m crazy.”
He strapped me to the back deck and shoved back into the water.
“Hold on tight,” he said, “and welcome aboard.”
–Taken from the personal diary of Frank Jr. from the day he reunited with his long lost father who had been presumed dead after an expedition to Lake Superior never returned.