I was falling. I didn’t realize how tall the wave would be, or that I would have so much of a gut-in-my-throat sensation of free-fall. It was, dare I say, almost enjoyable.
The moment ended in a snap as I found myself falling sideways. I crashed into the wave head first, tumbling through the icy ocean water. The piece of rubber connected to my ankle at one end and the board at the other strained under pressure. The rubber-band effect that took place flung the board right at me, but it didn’t connect for I was tumbling too fast.
I was upside down, then right side up, then sideways. I felt my right shoulder smash into something – the ocean bottom? I was running out of breath and began to paddle with al my might. Was I even headed towards the surface? I couldn’t be sure. Then, just in time, my head popped out of the water and I gasped for air. I opened my eyes for a split second. Salt stinging them, I squeezed them shut again.
Just when I though I was free, a second wave pounded me. Tumbling again, this time I attempted to go limp until the churning ended. It didn’t help. I thought my body would snap in half from the tugging, the pushing, and the harshness of it all. Finally round two ended and I surfaced again. I didn’t have time to clear my eyes when I saw a third attack on its way. ‘I’ll duck under this one and let it pass,’ I thought.
I dove as far as I could. The rubber, still around my ankle, yanked back. I was free from the wave but the board wasn’t. As the wave consumed the board in one swallow, I was along for the ride. The pain seared hot on my ankle, but that was soon forgotten as my torso was driven into the ocean floor.
This pattern continued for what seemed like a long, long time. I surfaced; I tumbled; I gasped for air.
Finally, the seemingly relentless ocean began to subside and I found the time between battles grew longer. Eventually they fizzled and I found my footing on the sandy bottom of the 4 foot deep sea. My ankle burned, my shoulder throbbed, and a gallon of salt water sloshed in my head. I attempted to arrange my swimsuit, ignoring the pile of sand that sagged in my bikini bottoms. I knew there was no use. I’d gone to battle with the sea, and the sea won.
Scanning my surroundings, I realized that I had landed about a mile down from our area. I would have to walk back, there was no way I was headed back into the water after that.
I looked into the water and saw Zack headed my way. He looked… untouched by the sea. I stopped and watched him. I couldn’t even lift my arm in a wave of acknowledgement.
“Amber! I’ve been calling your name for you for the last ten minutes! Are you ready to try again?”
“Are you kidding?” I sputtered, tossing the board onto the sand. “I just went ten rounds with the sea! I’m never surfing again!”