Photograph courtesy of The Journey of G
From the peak of the next wave he spotted the biggest waves he had ever seen, twin blue wind-whipped walls lumbering heavily toward him, one behind the other. A chill came over him. He plunged his shoulders into the water and sprinted madly toward the first one. He kept his legs straight and put his hips into his kicks, his torso into his shoulders. He glanced once at the wave to check his position. It was so far above him that he almost lost his sense of the horizontal. He would make this one, barely, but he had to get through it quickly if he was going to have any chance of making the next one. The base was too thick to dive through; it would stop him and turn him completely around. He met the wave at full speed and swam straight up its surface, becoming more vertical with each stroke. It began to curl. Before it could catapult him into the impact zone he lunged into it, clawed, kicked, and scratched his way through it, knowing before he popped out the other side that he wouldn’t make the next wave. He surfaced in a river of water pulling him backwards. A cold ball of panic settled in his stomach. Semana Santa.
The next wave was a stupendous manifestation of nature. It occupied the horizon. A kilometer to the South its shoulder dropped away. At this point it wouldn’t do him any good to get closer to the wave, but he did need some forward momentum. He swam with measured strokes, grabbing all the oxygen he could. The water was a deeper blue out here, and colder than his usual big wave spot. It was just water, he told himself. No rocks, no reefs, no logs in the water, no boats, no sunken tankers. Just water. He was strong. He’d make it.
The lip sprouted from the top of the face, curled angrily in the wind, and descended in slow motion toward the base. When it landed, the spray would blind him. He dove and hunted for the bottom. It was a fuzzy grey plane, and he’d found it much too quickly. Not enough water. He plunged his hands into the soft sand and tried to lie flat against it. Boom! A crush of water slammed down, bouncing him off the bottom. He clawed at the sand and wriggled his body to stay flat, but the current tore him away. Suddenly he was bouncing around in a storm of churning bubbles, head over heels, up, down, sideways, twisting and spinning. He lost all sense of the vertical, and put his arms out trying to feel the bottom. How long had it been, ten seconds? Twenty? His lungs began to hurt. He opened his eyes and looked around for the light. There it was, on his right side. He rolled over, planted his fins on the bottom and pushed off.
On the surface he took a huge breath. Foam covered the surface of the water, and it was hard to stay afloat. Little eddies and vortexes still spun, denying the ocean its buoyancy. Quickly he checked the horizon. No more waves. Behind him, the wave he had just survived rolled toward shore, the spray flying furiously in all directions behind it.
Excerpt from Rolling in the Sand, Chapter 45 of Part II, to be published this Winter. Part I is available from Smashwords.