There in the sunshine state is a dreamy spot where dreams are made. Or, at the very least, memories.
I remember standing in a man-made pool of manta rays.
The water is warm. There is sand and gentle waterfalls. Everyone wants to make happy before the clouds that threaten to roll in steal the day.
The rays glide silently and skillfully. That's how they're made. I admire them and you do, too, for the briefest of moments.
We're startled out of our fantasy when a red-trunked troublemaker crashes into us. He's loud and even rowdier than you. You fall and the rays scatter.
The water isn't so deep. Your head is just above. I can still reach you. Even with my earnest efforts, you have the hardest time recovering. Your bare feet keep slipping on the rocks beneath the surface.
I had done my best to convince you to keep your shoes on. I'd chosen some special, just for the dangerous occasion of navigating slippery rocks for the first time. I thought of everything back then. Only, I couldn't account for the one you lost and what was the point in wearing only one shoe? Although it seemed a pity, I sigh my agreement.
Time and again, you fall. If I'm not mistaken, once there was blood but, more often, you rose, sputtering and coughing up fishy water.
The rays seem to take offense at the constant noise and splashing so they keep their distance. I can't blame them but I'm sticking with you, shoes or not.
We wade back out the way we came in and head to the buffet line to enjoy a meal together. This place is too much.
After lunch, there are delicate birds to admire but you like the sharks better. I already know to have a healthy fear and skip the fascination but I can see in your eyes that there's no point in expecting you to follow suit.
Mostly, I regret that I didn't swim with you and the dolphins that day. I wanna have that memory. I thought of everything but that thing.
For a time, we do take shelter from a drizzly rain. I watch you as you struggle to sit still and be patient. There's so much I don't know about you yet. Nevertheless, my truest heart is frozen in that moment.
Once the rain passes, we return to the rays. You've learned a little something since your last experience and wade confidently into the rays' habitat. I stay close by, waiting and thinking. Just in case.
Then, the most remarkable thing happens. The rays surround us, peacefully awaiting their supper. This is unexpected and we freeze a moment here as well. I'm certain this will require the help of a manta ray expert.
I glance around only to see that he's been there all along, in the midst of us and our rays.
He serves while we watch dreamily in amazement.
The clouds won't steal the day after all.