Random Act of Kindness


It’s not an understatement. IT took less than five minutes to turn our tranquil beach vacation into a scene from a horror movie!

Transfixed at the event unfolding right in front of us, we were all unable to run away. Like watching a wreck on the highway, everything was happening in slow motion and there was nothing any of us could do to avoid it. We just pointed and stared — hoping against hope that somehow IT would stop. But no, IT just kept coming.

So how does the first sentence in this story lead to a random act of kindness? Well, Dear Reader, just keep reading. That answer will be clear soon.

Throughout all our adventures growing up for those seven years back on Flamingo Street, none of us – not my three brothers, The Sister, me, nor any kid living on Flamingo — had ever seen such an occurrence. And, if I were being honest, I hope never to see such a thing again.

The event happened during our recent winter vacation to Jekyll Island. The seven beaches had taken a beating during the recent hurricane. Heavy waves and historic storm surges had exposed and twisted tree roots while washing away the twenty-foot sand dunes that protect the inland. When the waters finally receded, the months-long clean-up began. Many of the boardwalks had been destroyed and were still off limits. That’s how we found ourselves having to hike through woods to reach an area of the beach rarely visited.

Just after breakfast, The Wife was watching our two granddaughters building a grand sandcastle on the deserted beach, while I searched for sand dollars to add to my collection. Suddenly, she looked behind me and said, “Do you see that?” The concern in her voice immediately put a stop to my search. “Looks like IT is coming straight towards us. I think we need to get out of here.”

In every horror movie there’s one person who says to run away and another who says everything is okay and insists on staying. The Wife was the former; I was the latter. And, by the way, she was right. We should’ve run.

But we didn’t.

(For those of you still waiting, the random act of kindness is coming soon.) What happened next was straight out of the most frightening movie this kid from Flamingo has ever seen — The Fog.

Way out to sea, a bank of fog was forming so thick the morning sun was quickly blocked out, causing the once sunny day to become eerily twilight. Incoming waves seem to be pulling the fog along to shore. As the fog grew in density, the odd movement of the waves seem to give the rolling whiteness life! I dropped all the sand dollars I’d been collecting.

As the fog crashed to shore, IT enveloped us almost instantly. Seeing just a few feet ahead was becoming more and more difficult. Our beach time was at an end. It was time to go. Knowing that separating in a horror movie always ends badly, I announced, “Let’s go! We’ll be safe; just stay together.”

Which, of course, no one did.

Sweet Caroline immediately ran towards the ocean, disappearing into the dense fog. Little One dug furiously, now destroying the very sandcastles they had just built. What they were doing was a mystery to me.

I shouted, “Girls! What are you doing?”

I ran towards the ocean and finally saw Sweet Caroline running back towards us. The fog was so thick visibility was not but a few feet, and IT’s dampness clung to us like a heavy wet blanket. I gripped the slippery hand of Sweet Caroline, marching her back to where The Wife was attempting to brush off wet sand from Little One’s pants. I said, “Come on. We’ve got to get off this beach, NOW!”

In the waning days of 2022, our two granddaughters were about to teach me the theme for 2023 I’ll strive to live by.

As we struggled to get off the beach and find the way back to our car through the fog and forest, the Girly Girls explained what they had done. “Papa,” Sweet Caroline said, “You accidently picked up a live sand dollar. I was just putting him back in the ocean so he could live.”

Little One added, “And I was filling in the moat we dug. You can’t leave holes on the beach. It’ll hurt the sea turtles.”

The girls had each performed a random act of kindness. In a small way, they had made a difference.

So, my question to you, Dear Reader is this: What small random act of kindness will you do this year to help something or someone? If everyone does just one, think how it will change the world and make it a much better place for us all in 2023.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]