Our boogie boards went bump-bump-bump over the sand. The tide was high, and the waves were big. Just looking at them made me excited.
There weren’t many people out today. Figures. It was two days until s-c-h-o-o-l started, the dry Santa Ana winds blowing in the hazy summer smog. My bathing suit was still sandy and damp from the day before, and oily black tar coated my bare feet.
We kept walking. We had to get past the rocks that shredded our feet. The beach wasn’t sandy, or smooth. The stretch of coast was empty, and it was far from popular, being near an oil derrick and beat-up resort. This place was only full in the heat of early August when Malibu was too crowded. The beach had rhythm, personality: the happy loner that dallies; the dreamer that didn’t care what the little blond gang of Barbies thought.
I could feel the hot sand through my worn black flip-flops. I started to sprint, eager. My blue Morey board, faded and battered, went bump-bump-bump in my wake. The string that attached to my wrist pulled down a slope to the hard sand, near the green, murky water. It wanted to be in the waves, just like me.
I threw my towel down, kicked off my flip-flops. I ran down the beach, feet burning, dodging mounds of fly-ridden seaweed.
“Claudia!” my brother called. “Wait!” But then he was sprinting too, his legs matching mine, beat for beat, push for push. We dashed into the waves, a ragged thrill of energy soaring through me.
Shock. “Jeez, that’s cold!” I said. Bump-bump-bump! my boogie board replied, splashing over the water’s ripples. I waded farther in. Jack and I both gasped as the chilling water reached our necks.
We sank in deeper after we’d caught a couple waves. I could just make out a new group of swells on the horizon. Three feet, easy. Good-sized. As they came closer, my Morey slipped out in front of me. Sure, I thought.
“You gonna take it?” I asked Jack.
“Yeah, think so.” He spun his board around, both of our backs to the wave.
It rose beautifully behind me, forming a perfect crescent. I kicked out onto my stomach, and the wave jolted me forward.
It all happened so fast: the wave went down with a crash, and my Morey shot out from under me like a man diving from a sinking ship. I was companionless. My stomach took a wrenching flip. Suddenly, covering my head (the one thing I learned from surfing lessons), I spun, some poor servant of the wave. I tried to force myself up, but white water held me hostage. Lungs bursting, I thrust myself upward. Air!
I stood, dazed and battered. I felt as if I’d gone through spin cycles in the washing machine.
But then my boogie board came floating towards me.
Bump-bump-bump! it said. I stared at it for a moment, and then raced back into the waves.