“Nobody’s coming. Nobody is doing anything. I mean Riverhead isn’t that far away. And look, oh shit; now some guys are marching out there with bolt cutters. Bolt Cutters! It looks like one guy has a shovel.”
This freaked me out, as I knew these would-be do-gooders would likely hurt either themselves or the seal. I called the biologist again. She said someone was on the way, and she reminded me that people should stay back. That the seal doesn’t know that people have good intentions. That if these people get too close, the seal will head for the safety of the ocean. The safety that could kill it.
“Get back. Get away from him!” I screamed to the gathering crowd. “They said not to go near it. Just try to keep him from going back into the ocean. Someone is on the way.”
I’m sure they wondered who the hell had put this wild-haired, crazy woman in a yellow rubber rain jacket in charge.
I walked back to our house. I couldn’t bear to see any more. Don quietly put on his green windbreaker and walked down to the beach. I sat on a chair with my eyes closed. After about 20 minutes he came back.
“It was actually over very quickly. Everybody seemed quite efficient.” Don calmly reported.
A woman from Okeanos had raced across the sand with a sheet of sorts. She and a helper had gently loaded the exhausted seal onto the bed of a truck.
In a few days I worked up the courage to call and check on the seal’s condition. I feared the worst. My breathing was rapid and my hands shook a little. I was told that the seal had survived and would soon be returned to the water.
This good news sent me into a sobbing fit. I felt victorious. And suddenly so tired. Gradually, I regained my composure. I believed that I was meant to help this creature. And I did my best. The sun began to send spokes of golden light through the clouds. This is a light unique to the area and unutterably beautiful.
I sipped my coffee then, and thought how easy it is to unwittingly get caught up in what other people put out there. The seal had no choice, but I did. I went back to work on Monday. I could hear the waves breaking on the sand all day.
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