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Romance Fiction

For as long as I could remember, the ocean had terrified me. A deep, dark, and seemingly endless expanse of water ready to swallow me up never to be seen again. Or a sea monster grabbing my leg and dragging me down. Maybe I'd just tire and sink like a stone.


I stepped down the wooden stairs from the porch and onto the white sands, surfboard tucked under my arm and the sun beating down on my pale face. The waves rushed to shore and the cool wind blew past me. It may have been peaceful, if I hadn't been so damn nervous.


"Nate!" A voice called from down by the water. My sister-in-law, Kalea, waved for me to join her and her husband at the water's edge.


"Go get 'em, babe." My wife, Lani, said in a sweet yet teasing voice from her spot on the porch. "I'd love to join but," She rested her hand on her stomach. Surfing while 6-months pregnant was a no-go.


"I guess this is what I get for marrying a Hawaiian girl, huh?" I tried to hide my anxiety as I walked towards the ocean. But I could tell by her sympathetic smile that she saw through it.


"Ready?" Kalea asked me. I nodded and hoped she couldn't see the slight tremble in my hands. This was my first time meeting Lani's family and I was desperate to make a good impression. "Lani told me you're afraid of the water," FUCK. "But Makana and I will be right by you the whole time." She assured me.


I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes, I wasn't a child. "I'm good," I said as we trudged out into the cool water. She placed her board into the water and I followed suit, only to promptly flip over and be dumped into the knee-high saltwater. I surfaced and wiped the water from my eyes, this was going to be a very long day.


We managed to paddle out to her husband, and I only got rolled by 2 waves so I considered it a win. Or at least not a loss?


I watched Kalea and Makana for a while as the caught wave after wave. They'd both grown up doing this, and made it look easy. While I was struggling to not tip over. Though, I was perfectly content with that until my eyes found Lani's... She was watching me, patiently waiting for me to "At least try, for me?" Her voice echoed in the back of my mind.


A wave began to crest behind me and I paddled in unison with it until the water began crashing down on me. Pop up! I thought as I went to stand.

My hand slipped and faceplanted onto the foam with a Smack! Before getting pulled under the surface. I resurfaced and spit out a mouthful of seawater. "That sucked..." I said, pulling myself back up onto the board.


"There you go, Nate!" Makana yelled over the roar of the ocean.

I felt a smile tug at the edges of my mouth.


I reset and tried again, going over the steps Lani had told me that morning. The wave broke and I popped up, making sure my grip was tighter this time. Too far back, the board went out from under me.


I got back on and tried again. Too far forward, the nose dove beneath the waves and slingshot me into the sandy bottom. That one hurt... Frustrated, I slapped the water, hard enough that the skin on my arm stung.


"Why am I EVEN doing this?" I thought in irritation. "Surfing is Lani's thing, not mine!" Regardless, I collected my board and went back out to try again.

I glanced back at the house and was grateful to see that Lani wasn't there to see my temper tantrum.


I tried again, my feet slid off and sent me back into the water. Try again, fall over for no apparent reason. This went on for a long time, though I was to caught up in what I was doing to notice. I'd dare say I was having fun...


I surfaced and was met by Kalea. "Hey, we're heading in, you comin'?" She asked.


I realized how much time had passed but I was determined to get the hang of this. "No, I'm gonna keep going. I'll see you guys at dinner." My response didn't strike me as strange but Kalea and Makana exchanged looks before heading to shore.


The sun dipped behind Kauai's volcanic peak, casting a shadow over the beach. "Okay, one more time. You got this, Nate..." I rubbed my pruned hands together.


"This is it..!" I told myself as a wave began to form and rush towards. It was the biggest one yet and I braced myself as it crashed down on me. I popped up, planted my feet, and... a rush of excitement hit me. I was surfing! I actually did it! A wide smile spread across my face.


I leaned and tried to turn but that was more than I was ready for. I slipped off the side and the board shot up as I was going down, hitting me in the nose.


I sat in the low surf and let the water run over my legs, gripping my nose. I wasn't sure if I was bleeding or not but damn did it hurt... "Alright, I'm done."


I dragged the surfboard up the beach by its tether. I practically collapsed onto the board in front of the house. My entire body felt heavy and the exhaustion finally settled into my body.


The screen opened and closed behind me with a loud Clack! "Have fun?" Lani asked, coming down the steps to sit with me.


I was half tempted to lie, considering how much I'd been dreading it. But I couldn't deny it. "Yeah, I had a lot of fun, actually."


I heard a soft giggle escape her lips. "Oh baby, you're so burned." She ran a gentle finger over my burned cheek, which would surely blister.

We sat in happy silence, watching the waves lap against the shoreline and she wrapped her arms around me. I was drenched and the water soaked her shirt, but she didn't seem to mind. "Thank you," Lani finally spoke again.


"For what?" I turned to meet her eyes.


"For trying," I don't think expected me to actually try. "I know how much you hate the ocean but you still tried."


"I'm glad I did, maybe it's something we can do as a family?" The ocean still frightened me, and it probably always would.


I could feel her beaming at me but didn't meet her eyes this time.


"But honey?"


"Hm?"


"You kinda suck at surfing."








August 08, 2020 10:01

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