From the Deep

It’s sink or swim.

Oliva Ray, Special Contributor

“SOS” Zoe sketched in the stand with a stick that had fallen from the trees. Valerie rolled her eyes at her sister. The two were stuck at their grandma’s house on the coast of Rhode Island for the week. Zoe always hated something about the house, she would often tell Valerie the nightmares she had about it. The creaky floors. The unsettling calmness. The creepy waves right outside her window. She hated the beach even more. Zoe has always been scared of the ocean, which was right in the backyard of the girl’s grandma’s house.

Valerie erased Zoe’s drawing from the stand by brushing sand over it with another stick.

“The ocean’s going to get you if you keep drawing that,” Valerie said, mocking her sister’s fear. Valerie was 16, Zoe was three years younger than her. Valerie made fun of Zoe’s fears quite frequently.

“You aren’t funny,” Zoe said, beginning to sketch something else in the sand.

“No, but seriously, when are you going to grow out of being scared of this place?” Valerie asked.

Zoe didn’t respond, she continued drawing.

Dark clouds swept in from over their grandma’s house. It was going to storm again. Again. There had been storms every other day for the past week. Zoe and Valerie’s grandma had promised them that they could go out on the canoes around the shore one evening. They haven’t yet; the weather’s been too chaotic.

Valarie frowned. “Looks like a storm’s coming in; we’ll have to delay the canoeing till tomorrow, again.”

“Thank you,” Zoe whispered under her breath.

Valerie noticed and rolled her eyes again. As the clouds crowded the sky, rain started falling.

“C’mon, Zoe,” said Valerie, “let’s go inside.”


The next morning, Zoe and Valerie’s grandma wasn’t working, making it the perfect day to go canoeing.

It was a bright day, hardly any clouds, and a little breezy. Zoe was iffy about it. As much as Valerie pushed her to go, she refused to go with her on the boat.

Out on the canoe, Valerie looked over at her sister sitting on the beach—there was a figure in the water.

She could barely see it, but it was definitely there. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Creeped out, she decided to return to the beach and go sit by her sister.

In the evening, their grandma had gone to the store, leaving Valerie with the urge to go canoeing again. She was able to convince Zoe to do it; she told Zoe if she wasn’t going to go with her, then she would go by herself. Zoe felt anxious with Valerie going out on the canoes by herself, so reluctantly she agreed to it.

Valerie spent most of the day talking about how pretty the sunset was going to be.

“You can’t see many stars in our town,” Valarie said to her sister, “there’s way too many buildings, which takes attention away from the sky.”

Zoe shoved her hands in the pockets of her sweatshirt and stared at the ground. She followed behind Valerie on their way over to the canoes.

Valerie and Zoe climbed on the canoe, and they rowed out into the ocean.

Zoe looked off into the distance; she could see clouds. “Is it going to rain, again?” She asked Valerie.

Valerie shook her head. “We won’t be out here for long, we’ll get back before the rain gets over here.”

They set out on the boat into the murky, dark waters. Zoe shivered looking at the sea. Her face had gone pale and she seemed terrified.

Valerie, assuming it was just her fears, looked up at the night sky: it was beautiful. Dozens of stars that weren’t typically visible were now. Valerie smiled. It was the prettiest thing that she’s ever seen. Valerie was still staring at the night sky when she felt Zoe’s hand nudge her shoulder. Valerie ignored it. Zoe nudged again.

“Val,” Zoe whispered, “Val.”

Annoyed, Valerie looked at her sister, who was frozen in terror. She was staring at something, something off in the distance in the water. Valerie looked at Zoe, then tried to catch what she was staring at.

“What are you looking at?” Valerie asked.

Zoe signaled for her to be quiet, then pointed at the water.

A gigantic creature, about the size of the boat that they were on, swam in the murky depths. Its skin was brown and gray, with similar patterns to the wings of moths. And its eyes; they were big and white, like a clear film of lifelessness. The creature’s body was long, like a giant snake. It had a large mouth, rearing its long needle-shaped teeth.

Valerie froze in horror, staring at the creature. It was the one she saw earlier today. She had gotten too distracted and let the boat float too far away from the shore.

Zoe and Valerie pedaled desperately trying to reach the shore. Valerie looked down at her sister, who was laying in the boat, holding her arm.

She was bleeding.

The creature had got her. Valerie hesitated, she didn’t know what to do. Frantic, she found a rock and threw it at the fish’s eye before it got to her sister again. The fish cowered away, but it would only be distracted for a minute.

Valerie paddled desperately to the shore while Zoe held her wounded arm. Purely based on luck, they had made it. Once they were close enough to the shore, Valerie and Zoe jumped out of the boat and grasped the sand, reaching toward the shore.

Once they were where the waves couldn’t get them, Zoe spit out a chunk of sand and tried to catch her breath.

Valerie rolled over in the sand and closed her eyes. The storm was still there. She was too exhausted to get back to the house.

Zoe’s arm continued to ooze out blood was bleeding out of her arm. Valerie noticed and hastily crawled toward her. She picked Zoe up and staggered to the house.

“Help!” she screamed, she could see their grandmother who had just gotten back in the distance.

“Help!” She screamed again. Valerie watched her grandma jog toward her.

Valerie screamed for help again, but this time she passed out.

Valerie opened her eyes. She was in the hospital. She recognized the plain white walls. Her parents and grandma were standing over her, shaking their heads.


It’s been 16 months since Valerie visited her grandma’s house. 16 months since Zoe died.

She never wanted to visit anymore; she hated the house, the ocean, everything about. The first time she was here again today. She sat on the shore looking out at the sunset. This time she sat a good distance away from the water. Valerie couldn’t wait to go home.

She reached out and grabbed a stick that had fallen from the trees. “SOS” Valerie sketched in the sand.