The wind rippled through his long, curly hair like gentle fingers trying to delicately ease his troubled mind. Chuck reclined on the tall dune, propped up on his elbows as he watched the sun peak her rosy face over the steel grey breakers. They broke as relentless as the pistons of a steam engine. Again and again, over and over the waves pounded the broad, sandy beach, devouring the sand one grain at a time.
Whispering, the wind seemed to breathily remind him of the myriad sayings of the sea: Time and Tide Wait for No Man; Nothing is as Certain as the Uncertainty of the Ocean; Live in the Sunshine, Swim in the Sea, Drink the Wild Air.
He closed his eyes, soaking in the first lances of warm light.
Chuck clenched his eyes and remembered.
His father had rolled in long after Chuck had drifted off to sleep. The drunken shouts and tearful rebuttals had ripped him from slumber with the violence of an undertow. The dreams shattered as if his father had been present in his room and he the target of The Wrath.
For a few terror-filled heartbeats Chuck remained frozen in bed, hidden for the moment. Listening and hating, he curled into a fetal position. Then, with a sudden flare of bravery, he ran away.
Several dark thoughts drifted through his head as he snatched his few belongings amid the crashing and shrieks filtering in from the living room.
Chuck glared at his door. Violence tempted him. Darkness tempted.
But instead he slipped away, hopping from his bedroom window into the narrow alley running beside his house. He trailed his free hand along the rough wooden fence blocking a view of his neighbor’s yard. Bare feet carried him into the muggy Floridian night.
Chuck lived for two things and they dominated his life outside the stucco prison of his family’s single story, metal-roofed house. Friends looking for him only searched in the water or on the blacktop court. They provided his only safe haven.
The park lay dark. But in his mind the courts had never been an option.
The Ocean afforded miles in which to lose himself. In the early morning darkness he moved by instinct. On the boardwalk he slipped into his short john, snatched his board, and left his family behind.
Waiting on the beach for the sun, he listened to the soothing thunder of the breakers rolling through the darkness. He marveled at their sightless sense of direction, like migrating birds knowing where to make landfall. He envied their stolid resolve. He cherished their unjudging embrace.
The Ocean soothed him, soothed his soul. It brought to light memories of his grandfather, his grandpa, his Pop. Somehow, if he listened closely, the whispering waves seemed to contain Pop’s words. Straining to hear the faint words the Ocean spoke, he closed his eyes and leaned forward eagerly, jealously, mournfully. The Ocean, his Pop, his heart all spoke, thundered, whispered in unison. The words wafted a faint whisper. But if he focused, he could make them out.
Time to Go.
Time to Go.
Time to be your own man, son.
Smiling, Chuck rose to his feet and reached over his shoulder to zip his suit. He looked into the rosy hued dawn. Then with a shimmering smile the new sun tipped her head to crest the flat Ocean horizon and with a mirrored smile, Chuck ran down to plunge into the storm-stirred Ocean.
It was time for one final ride.
* * *
This was a short I wrote some time ago. I was talking to a fellow writer about the challenges of condensing a story into a page or two. This clocks in at just under 600 words, or right around two pages. The Surf wasn’t challenging to write. It came in a dream and I loved it because the ending slides right into the reader’s psyche.
Let me know what you think. Let me know how this ends.
On another note, I will be at the Twin Tiers Comic-Con this weekend selling my books. Drop by and say hi. Don’t forget, Atom & Go makes a great stocking stuffer for the sci-fi aficionado in your house.
With fall in full swing make sure to keep on reading, keep on buying snuggly blankets, and keep on flying the Black.