Stringers – Twelfth Wave

Twelfth Wave

Thunder filled the air as the full force of the Alaskan swell passed over the boneyard. Only a handful of places on earth were capable of generating such awe-inspiring theatre. At this moment, the privilege of experiencing that drama belonged solely to Caspar, as the first colossal wave went off.

However slight the difference may be, sound travels quicker over water than land. As the telltale vibrations raced over the cold dark sea the girl’s skin tingled with receipt of the message, her head rung with the suspended roar of wave over reef. Unfolding from her crouch over the smoldering fire, she turned her head in the direction of the hollow boom. Warmth from the glowing embers filled the cramped space, keeping the cool moist air at bay and preventing it from invading the confines of her primitive shelter as she scanned the heavens from the protection of the log frame doorway. Thunder without lightning. Canoes.

He sat alone at the center of a ring of thin lacy moisture, with only the direction of the waves to differentiate north from south, east from west, with only the sound of the waves to acknowledge his existence. Positioned on the outside, Caspar watched as the waves rolled by in sets of two about seven minutes apart. First to appear was a smaller variant of ten to twelve feet in height, followed by a second wave of considerable size, most in excess of sixteen feet.

Since he was eight, he had searched for this place and this moment, explored the design from all possible angles, carefully mapped the final steps: leave early, paddle hard, pick a line, do not deviate, stroke until you are about to free-fall, do not get barreled, do not to get covered up. What his mind’s eye had failed to capture, what he could not have anticipated, was that the next wave, his wave, would be in excess of thirty-six feet.

Floating parallel to the direction of the waves, slowly drifting into position, he let the first wave roll by and then he attacked. Stroking feverishly into the path of the second wave, finding his line, paddling even harder yet, until he was almost upside-down. His face stung from the salty spray carried by the force of the wind racing up the steepening curve of the wave. He sprung to his feet, landing squarely on the deck of the board, perfectly balanced, his back to the wave.   Right foot forward, he dropped his left hip, transferring weight back onto his left foot so that he would not be pitched over the nose of the board and be crushed by the pursuit of the falls.


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