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Nightsurf 1987

Page 4

Karen Lethlean

Late summer swells made for a difficult paddle out, as waves fought back, but God, how beautiful? Sashes of tangerine singed melting blue skies. Kelp looked like gold broth filled with black soba noodles.

Her shoulders burned with lactic acid as she paddled toward a line-up of swell. Too much pen-pushing, book-reading lately. A ridge of water rose across gold horizon wave lips. She aligned herself with a swell cascading, dug her arms into water hard, as water mass crested. There was a rushing surge of power beneath her feet as she popped up, standing, perfectly positioned. Envisioning a quick bottom turn, she followed up with hugging this wave wall, to ride right along northern sandbar edges. Instead, she wobbled and peeled forward, smacking her face into ice-cold green crush, hearing dulcet hums of underwater ear pressure drumming in her temples. Breaking the surface, humiliated with a gut full of sea.

Following wave Emma gained the lead, powerful legs semi-crouched, wet hair plastered to the nape of her neck. Cutting a path along edges of breaking wave foam with ballet poise, rotating her torso just right, in a northerly direction, carving a divot line, as if a jet plane vapour trail. 

Christy gripped the side rails of her board and duck-dived beneath an incoming wave. Cold. Hazy green underwater drum. Sensations of being lost down a well, silent, out of control, being out here, underwater. Focus. Try again. She hustled into position, paddling back until her shoulders screamed. She caught a wave, just barely, but enough to feel it roll and spread like butter beneath her board on standing up. A brief blast of mastery. As much as imaginable, so only a fantasy of being in charge. Water, momentarily, her territory before her quads began to tremble, the lopsided weight caused her to bail out. Bobbing about between sets being kneaded over by silver wave after silver wave. Legs like limp celery, ribs tender from pressure paddling on her board.

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