As I said in yesterday’s post, I am posting my June short story today. The topic – WAVES.
As you guys know I have had wicked writer’s block of late. That was, until this little piece.
And without further adieu, here we go:
I jumped on my board and laid face down across it. Paddling. Pushing myself out to the larger waves just beyond the reef. The cool water bit into my skin, its salty taste lingering on my lips as I pushed on. I stared at the open ocean, squinting from the glare of the sun as it hit the water, shining like a million diamonds. My best friends in the world, Jenn and Dani were next to me, coaxing me forward. Helping me find the strength to face these waves again.
This used to feel so relaxing – being out in the middle of the water, riding the surf, being one with the ocean. But that was before, when I still believed that nothing could happen to me out here. I’m not so naïve now. And now I know that surfing can turn deadly – even for the most experienced among us.
My mind drifted as pictures of my brother Jake filled every crevice. His face, his smile, his eyes before he drown.
“Ay, Kat. Focus. You’re gonna get your ass kicked by these waves.” Jenn’s voice pulled me back, reminding me that I need to pay attention – to everything.
“Sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“You’re thinking about Jake, aren’t you? It’s cool. I’d do the same thing if my brother died out here. But, it’s been three months. You need to get on with your life. He’d be really pissed if he knew that you stopped surfing.” Dani nodded in agreement with Jenn’s words.
They were right. I knew they were. But, things like this aren’t so easy to forget. “It’s just too hard now.”
“Look, you made it out this far. Just try, ‘kay? Catch one of the next ones. You’ll be okay. These are babies,” Dani said, her smile almost as bright as the mid-day Hawaiian sun.
Yeah right, babies, I thought. More like eight foot demons of power that could slam my head into the reef below us, or snap my neck like a twig. Babies…I don’t think so.
I looked at the ocean current, reading her as I always did. Demons or not, the next few swells coming in looked perfect. And I was out here with nothing else to do. No reason not to try.
If only it was really that easy.
“Come on. It isn’t gonna get any better than this.” Jenn screamed over her shoulder as she positioned her board for the oncoming wave. She caught it effortlessly, bouncing onto her feet and riding it in. Not a care in the world. I missed that kind of freedom.
I glanced over my shoulder, waiting to ride the next one – determined to master control over my new found fear. My heart started to race as the wave shaped behind me. I pumped my arms, paddling fast, propelling myself to the top of the crest.
The wave formed a perfect barrel. I dropped into the tube, determine to ride through it. But I was too slow. And the barrel closed. On top of me.
My board slid out from under my feet as I rolled forward into the swirling mass of water, the power of the ocean pushing me into the reef.
My eyes bulged open and the memory of Jake’s last ride played out in front of me. His head smashing on the rocks, the board splitting in half from the force of the wave, and his body, floating to the surface. Lifeless.
My lungs ached for air, my brain screaming at me to get to the surface. But I was locked in the movie that was Jake’s last moment – paralyzed. My head detached as my thoughts blurred. And the blackness closed in. The water grew cold, my lungs and body continuing to scream for air. My mind went blank.
Until two hands found me and pulled me up. My eyes opened again, the surface of the water fading into view as it came closer. And closer.
With a final push, I broke the surface of the water. My mouth opened and my lungs breathed in the air it so desperately craved. My mind cleared.
“Brah, don’t do that. You scared us.” Dani’s eyes were wide with fright. “We thought we lost ya brah.”
“I thought you did to.” My heart pounded frantically in my chest. I never should have come back out. Not after Jake. Not now. “I shouldn’t have come out here.”
“That’s stupid. Of course you should be out here. You were made to be out here. And you know that. You’re just scared that you’ll wind up like Jake.” Dani said, her voice loud over the sound of the waves crashing ahead of us.
“Wouldn’t you be?”
“Doesn’t matter. Everything in life is scary. That’s what makes it interesting. So, stop wallowing and get out there and catch another one.” Dani’s eyes narrowed, locking with mine. “Besides, Brah, it’s the only way back to shore.” She winked, turned her board and paddled to catch the next wave as it crested near us.
Her ride was near perfect. And it left me alone. With the waves.
And my fear.
I looked over my shoulder. The next set was huge. At least nine footers thundering down on me. Nothing to do but catch them at this point.
I paddled for my life, my heart hammering away as I caught the forming wave. The tube it formed was perfect, daylight shimmering from the opposite side. I held my breath and slipped into the center of the tube.
Time stood still as I stayed there. And for a moment I was one with the wave – with not a care in the world.
Until the tube started to close. Again.
I spun the board around and sped through the water. I had to get out before the narrow tube closed on me completely. My pulse quickened, my breath caught in my throat and tears from the wind and my fear began to stream down my face.
The power of the nine-foot wave crashed behind me, spraying me with water and biting at my heels. Just a little further to get out.
But I was too late. The tube closed. On me.
I pushed the board, cutting into the crest again. I crashed through the outer wall of the wave as the full force of the water came down. My board wobbled and shook from the turbulent water. But my feet were steady, drawing on years of practice with these waves.
I cleared the wave, still on my board.
“Ahhh, Brah. You did it. WOOHOO!” Dani screamed, her voice dying in the sound of the waves.
Jenn came up next to me as we paddled back to the shoreline. Dani took the last wave of the day in.
Sweet! Jake’s voice rang through my head, breaking the silence I had felt from him since his death. Now, that’s what I call a wicked ride! I smiled as I dragged the board back to the sand, Jake’s pride mixing with my own.
I had found my way back home.
To the waves.