She stood at the edge of the surf, her thick, white hair loose and flowing in the wind, whipping about her face, her legs splayed, her arms held out for balance. The open ocean rolled and churned toward her, making her seem small and frail. He raced toward her, screaming her name. She turned at his voice and stumbled, falling into the water, landing on her hands and knees.
He plunged into the water and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to her feet. “My God, Sara, what are you doing out here?” he asked, breathless from his efforts. He rubbed her arms in a desperate attempt to make her warm.
“I don’t know,” she cried. “I’m all mixed up.”
The frigid water soaked through his shoes and socks. She shivered against him, her thin, flannel nightgown plastered against her body. He covered her with his jacket and led her away from the water. They labored across the beach to the path that led home.
He draped an arm over her shoulders and they stumbled back to the house. It seemed to take forever. Sara shivered uncontrollably, short of breath, her chest heaving. Jack struggled with every step, winded by the exertion of holding her up and propelling her forward. The rain continued to pelt them, but it had subsided a bit and they were able to maneuver through it with little difficulty.
They finally arrived home. He guided her through the front door and into the family room where he removed her wet nightgown, covered her with a blanket, and led her to the couch, easing her onto the soft cushions.
She cried, making little gasping sounds and repeating, “I’m so mixed up,” in a pitiful voice that chilled him to his core.
He made coffee, brought her a cup, and held it to her lips. She sipped carefully and flopped back against the couch, her blue eyes shiny with tears.
“Oh, Jack,” she moaned. “What’s happening to me?”
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