Stringers – Final Wave

Final Wave

Late evening mist hung above the slate grey sea, giving the impression of water boiled, then set to rest in the cool of the approaching twilight. From a distance, the length of light blue fiberglass and foam appeared as nothing more than part of the post storm debris field. A contribution to the flotsam knocking about, and rocking in time, with the persistent nudge of the incoming tide, as it lapped its way up the gentle slope of the now serene beachfront. Deeply gouged, cracked nearly clean through, only a fragment of the leash remained to keep the lone surviving fin company. Caspar’s board had come to rest on the beach just over a mile south of where he had first paddled out.

Silence filled the space vacated by the storm, the first indication that the tempest had finally exhausted itself. Throughout the afternoon the wind had raged as the sea battered the coastline, tossing drift logs about like toothpicks. Trees, torqued against their grain, moaned under the lashing delivered by the force of the gale. Time, measured by the steady beat of Canoes, stood still; with no end to the storm in sight. She waited, cross-legged on the cool damp sand, arms relaxed and resting across her lap. Chin tucked into the folds of a warm woolen scarf, her mind was occupied with thoughts of Caspar as she absorbed the waves of radiant heat that escaped the smoldering fire. In the end, it was the gulls that disrupted her reverie, as their cries filled the silence.

Massaging the stiffness from her legs and back, she prepared to leave the shelter and continue her vigil on foot. Removing the scarf from around her neck, she donned the hooded sweatshirt she had placed in her pack, the sweatshirt left behind by Caspar. Leaving the campfire to burn itself out, she pulled the hood snug and marched south in the wake of the storm looking for any sign of Caspar. Nearly a mile of raw barren beach had passed under her feet when the first bit of color caught her eye with its striking blue contrast.

Beached at the height of the incoming tide, the board lay motionless, adorned with a garland of seaweed and kelp, dead if a surfboard could be dead. Her head sagged with the burden of cold weighty thoughts, any hope for Caspar’s safe return waned, the damage was extensive. Dragging what remained of the board well clear of the surf, she claimed a spot on the sand, where she sat hand in hand with the final two hours of daylight and a gathering of fog. As the girl watched the sun dip ever closer to the horizon, she was forced to look away as the elements conspired to ignite a blinding effusion of orange and red, a refraction of light with kaleidoscopic efficiency.

Either a trick of the light, or the play of the fog, but when she turned her head back to look upon the sea, her eyes immediately came to rest on a dark shapeless form. Unsure how she had missed something so obvious, she raced to the water’s edge where the body lay motionless. Dropping to one knee she grabbed two handfuls of the protective rubber suit and heaved with all her strength, rolling the body towards her. Torso now open and exposed to the sky, Caspar’s back arched as his chest convulsed with the rush of incoming air. Expelled from his lungs, a stream of thick cloudy sea water drained from Caspar’s mouth as he forced a wet “I’m alive?”

What Caspar heard in reply as he watched the sun fade through a filter of raven black hair were not the words he expected.

“Yes Caspar, you are very much alive.”

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