Sometimes I like to contemplate. I like to just think. WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week was to take one of the four pictures supplied, and write whatever we wanted.
So here it goes! Yet another work of pure fiction. These are starting to grow on me, actually…
Jack sat in a deep squat looking over the water. He thought about how lucky he was to be alive, how lucky he was to even be able to sit the way he was sitting. 27 months ago, doctors told him he’d likely never walk again, never mind surf. He’d been an avid surfer. He’d enjoyed hitting the water hours before work, and had always felt that an intense evening surf in the day’s biggest swells was the best way to clear his head after too many house showings, client meetings, conference calls, and bottom line negotiations. He loved working in real estate, but it couldn’t hold a candle to what he felt like the second he pulled the zipper on his wetsuit all the way up to the back of his neck.
He knew winter time in the Pacific was a dangerous time to surf, but he seemed to be drawn to the danger. The swells were huge from the winter storms out at sea, and everyone who cared about him warned him against it. Suicide, they called it. He’d been surfing for fifteen years, and even though no one understood it, he was training for Mavericks and to get an invitation for that, he had to make sure he could handle the Pacific’s winter waves.
When he’d put his board in the water on December 24th, 2011, he felt exhilarated and nervous at the same time. Surf conditions were warned to be fairly dangerous that evening, but Jack wanted to try it. He zipped up his wetsuit, put his board in the water, and paddled out. The sun was beginning to set in the late December mid-afternoon. The cold water of the Pacific rushed over his wetsuit as he paddled against the current.
He rode a few fairly substantial waves, the whole time thinking about how angry his family would be that he’d bailed on Christmas once again. They didn’t understand his obsession with surfing. They didn’t understand how cathartic it was to ride a wave until it crested, then coast in toward the shore.
Christmas Eve 2011 had been different, though. He’d been out four times and was headed for a fifth. When he found the right spot in the wave and got in position to stand up, something didn’t feel quite right. It was too late, though. As he stood up, he wobbled. He lost his balance and he wiped out. He plunged into the chilly water, scrambling for the tether to his board to try to find the surface. With the sun setting, it became very difficult to figure out which direction the surface was, and the waves just kept pounding. He hit the sea bed with all the force of the swells above him, and felt a sharp, pointed rock pound into his lower back. The pain was blinding.
He must have lost consciousness because when he woke up next, he was lying in a hospital room with doctors surrounding him. There was talk of surgery, mention of paralysis, and a sober-faced doctor who looked him right in the eye and told him he might walk again, but he’d likely never surf another wave as long as he lived…. though living was something he was lucky he was still doing.
It had been a long, grueling 27 months of Physiotherapy and pushing through pain limits he never knew he could push through…. but Jack had done it. He was given a clean bill of health by his physiotherapist and his doctor. They both agreed that given the physical fitness he had managed to get himself back into, they saw no reason that he couldn’t try surfing again, though they recommended much tamer waves, and strongly cautioned that Mavericks should be taken off of Jack’s table indefinitely.
So there he sat, contemplating. He thought about the risks. He thought about the rewards. He’d taken up running, but it didn’t offer the same release that surfing did. He pondered — could he find something as therapeutic as cresting a wave with nothing between his feet and the ocean but a perfectly sculpted piece of fiberglass? He looked out over the ocean and contemplated. Was it worth it? He was scared, and his fear could mean his death. He remembered the pain of a rock in his tailbone. He remembered the panic that came from not being able to find the surface of the water. He remembered the feeling that his lungs might explode because they couldn’t get oxygen.
He stretched out on the rock’s surface and let the sun warm his chest and face. It was February, after all, so while it wasn’t cold by any means on the California coast, it certainly wasn’t hot. The hoodie he’d chosen that morning wasn’t quite enough to brace the wind until he got right down flat on the rock.
He stared into the clouds. Maybe he’d take up hang gliding……
Disclaimer: Please note that I know little to absolutely nothing about surfing. I’ve been thinking about it a little bit the last few days, because I just updated my Mac OSX to Mavericks, and it reminded me of the Gerard Butler surfing movie, Chasing Mavericks… (which was fantastic, by the way). This picture reminded me of that. Any information I didn’t know (pretty much all of it) I got from Wikipedia’s pages on surfing and Mavericks… haha so if I’m wrong on the details, please don’t pick it apart. This is what came to mind when I saw the picture.