“You remember that morning I found you in my tent ?” Terry shouted the words across to Jaz as he lay on his board in the morning light, just outside the break and taking a few minutes' breather after having paddled out for the last fifteen, duck diving when they could and struggling through white water when the waves came crashing down in too fast succession. The sun was bleaching the beach with a silver that followed on from the early reds and pinks. The sea was still empty apart from the two of them and the cliffs soared on their left hand side as the fountains of spray played against it’s outcrops.
“Yeah, what about it ?” Jaz grinned at the thought. Happier these days with recollections of the past than he often was with dealing with the present. Not just him, most of the people he knew.
“Well, remember that girl, y’know, you picked her up on the beach that day ? Long hair ?”
“Yeah, her name was Suzannah – what about her?”
“Just wondered what happened to her, I mean she was about for a week or so and we never ever saw you, then all of a sudden she fades out of the picture and you reappear on the scene again as if it was all totally normal. Never, as far as I remember, said another word about her.”
Jaz ‘s face cracked into a grin again. He paddled gently to carry himself over closer to Terry.
“She left. Like you say. Think she was going off to Oz – never really knew where. She was a memory and a half – about five minutes after I first spoke to her she had her tongue down my throat and her hands just about everywhere. Took me a while to realise that she was just as good at this pick up game as I was and I’d been played good and proper. No-one thought nice girls did that sort of thing the. Still, she was nice, I mean really nice. She hardly let me out of her caravan for the time she was here – just emerged for more beer mainly. God I’d forgotten how absolutely fantastic and how bloody demanding she was. She wasn’t the sort who was going to hang round my neck afterwards and I suppose she must have seen something like that in me, ‘specially back then. Maybe that was the attraction. It was a very strong one. “
Jaz’s flow was interrupted as a set grew out in the open water, “Come on then, this one !” he yelled.
Both men swung their boards around gracefully and dropped prone, paddling with steady arms, both holding one leashed leg up out of the water, it could have been mistaken for a bizarre variation on synchronised swimming. The roar, then the rush, as the wave picked them both up and flung them down its face, Jaz flying to his feet and Terry stumbling up with a little less grace as they planed down its translucent face. Liquid glass.
Terry bailed out first. Swinging his board off the top of the wave as the white front came crashing down. He knew he could have stayed up for longer but couldn’t face the tiring paddle back out again. Jaz rode on maybe twenty metres more and then he too sank gracefully, still standing, as the wave lost power and gave up the board in resignation.
The morning sun had lost its redness now and the water glinted silver and black as the low rays hit every churn and ripple. The white water frosted over on the backs of the waves which seemed almost static from the shore but moved with the solidity and sureness of a juggernaut when you sat in their path. Peeling left to right, cleaning up the surface of the water with every pass. Terry had no time for anthropomorphising the ocean, it wasn’t malevolent or benign, not something to appease or fight against - it was a big machine. A big natural machine which worked according to the things that powered it – the wind, the roll of the globe, the moon’s pull. It was a system, albeit not one that he could figure out so easily when he was being dragged across a rip and smacked on the back of the head by the hard cold water.
As the morning woke itself so did the village. More people entered the water and gradually they filtered themselves out according to bravado or expertise, depending on which way you looked at it. There were about ten or so people, all male, circling around the outside break. Now the morning no longer felt so exclusive to Jaz and Terry and they decided that enough weas enough. It still took them another fifteen minutes to find that ride back to the shallower water, a ride that was satisfying enough to round off the session. Always just one more wave promising to be that bit better.
The way ahead...