Surf Fiction #1
It wasn’t until the bar slipped out of her hand, turning over several times before ultimately finding itself covered with sand in a small puddle, that Sam realized she’d been lost in thought. The sound of wax skipping over the deck of her board was usually something she couldn’t ignore. The welcomed silence of a dawn patrol session was always short-lived, ruined by the sound of one, two, then many surfers readying their boards for the water. If the session took place later in the day after the city was awake and moving about, the waxing of one’s board was a kind of white noise that would combine with the sound of the whitewater to give the temporary illusion of solitude. Today was different though. When you’re in you own head, you hear nothing but yourself. You see bad times played over and over like some overly-dramatic novela where the female lead threatens suicide if her family tries to stand in the way of her love of the lowly but handsome stable boy who, when he stares deep into her eyes, sees only her rather than her fortune.
As she paddled out to the lineup, Sam wondered if novelas had happy endings—never having watched one before due to her lack of fluency in another language and her disdain for anything resembling a chick flick. Before she could once again lose herself in questions surrounding blame, a small peak rose, heading in her direction. It was still early enough to take the wave she was gifted without resorting to a whistle, a yell or a not always civil discussion about surf etiquette. She paddled harder than necessary, expecting the higher than normal tide to cause the shoulder to evaporate before it reached her. Upon realizing the shoulder would, in fact, hold, she slowed her strokes and angled left, deftly springing to her feet in anticipation of quickly finding trim and kicking out before the wave, as usual, folded over on itself with a loud crash. Crash it didn’t. At least not immediately. Sam was instead greeted by a longer than average ride which allowed her to take it all in, much like the way the brain takes it all in as a quick run through of one’s life at those times when it seems that death is imminent. As she stepped closer to the nose, trying to outrun the whitewater and stay with what little shoulder was left, her present life, the life of today, yesterday and the days when their union began to crack at its foundation, passed before her eyes. It was getting harder to look him in the eye; there was no there there. They both wondered if their marriage was worth fighting for. He thought it was. Sam believed differently, wanting instead to move on, freeing them both to exhale through teeth that would be, for the first time in years, unclenched.
Sam didn’t mind the swim in to retrieve the board. A surfer without a leash is a surfer who likes to swim. Someone once told her that, thinking himself clever in his sarcasm, somehow superior to the female surfer who had finally tired of his pointless flailing and taken what he deemed his wave, only to lose her board in the shorepound after a executing a simple cheater five that he—who would quit surfing a year later after adding a larger board and a paddle to his arsenal—would never attempt to master. Her board washed onto shore face down against a large rock, as if posing for an especially graphic centerfold shot that accentuated its shape. She stared at its lines for a bit, carefully fondled its rails and thanked the surf gods for sparing her board . . . this time.
For a second or two, Sam debated whether she should just go home. Her heart wasn’t in it. She didn’t care if she surfed long peelers or Victory at Sea garbage. She didn’t care about much of anything anymore. There was too much complicating her life, too much threatening to bring her to her knees should she let down her guard long enough to allow the turbulent, warring emotions to set up housekeeping when she wasn’t looking. Sighing loudly, as was her habit once things began to fall apart, Sam tossed her board back into the water. The lineup was as good a place as any to sit and stew.