There I am in the hat. My mother sewed a string into it so I wouldn’t lose it at the beach. You know those weird crushes you have on older cousins? The one’s even at age four you know are somehow a little off? Between my mother and her sister they managed to produce a bunch of kids–too many to properly watch at the beach. Stevie was that lanky tan kid with almost black eyes and a generous grin–aged 7. He dodged waves and I followed–aged 3. I remember that loud beach sound of the waves and gulls and the too bright sun sparking on the water. A wave dragged me under and no one noticed. I think I remember just floating under the surface and the slight drag that pulled me along.
A man was swimming out too far and the lifeguards blew their whistles, but just before heading in he noticed the hat and at the last second grabbed it to find a toddler beneath it. I remember being held upside down by my ankles as the man carried me around asking if anyone wanted to claim me.
I’ve always liked hats and random strangers acting as heroes.