by Andi Winter
“NOW, I WANT YOU TO PADDLE just like we did on the beach, and when the wave comes, pop up into the lunge, get yourself balanced, and ride the wave in. Just ride it. Got it?”
“Good. Now go!”
Taking her instructor’s word for it, the girl started paddling, pulling the water on each side of her surfboard. The kids in PE had laughed at her scrawny arms and coltish body, but she would show them. No one in Minot knew how to surf, probably because North Dakota was a land-locked state, and she would come back from her family’s trip to Hawaii proudly bearing the badge of “Surfer.” She had seen the badge in the hotel gift shop on the way to her lesson, and knew that was the first place she would go after her lesson.
The water started to rise and swell up under her board like a slowly waking giant. Well, maybe not a giant, since they weren’t that far out from Waikiki beach. Her parents had been worried about the ocean, but she had done her research and informed them that the water was only six feet deep where she would be surfing.
She popped into a lunge, both hands palms down, her right foot planted between her hands, her left foot turned out at a 45 degree angle just like her instructor said.
The board shifted sideways, but she held on and pushed herself upright. She looked up from her toes and saw the crowded beach lined with hotels and beach umbrellas and ant-sized people, the green mountains in the background. It was gorgeous, and coming closer. She was surfing! She couldn’t believe it, and nearly fell over with the realization. Boy, would she have stories to tell back at school.
Then she noticed that the beach, instead of coming closer, started drifting away. Not only that, but she was gaining altitude.
As her wave rose higher and higher, she could hear the distant blare of sirens, like the ones in those old black and white movies that sound like cranky crows. And it looked like there were more ant-sized people on the beach.
Her instructor never mentioned that.
Fear edged along her spine. Just keep my balance, and stay focused, she told herself.
And then the surfboard stopped.
Her instructor definitely did not mention that.
The water under her tilted and shifted, and she found herself surfing backwards down to the ocean level. With a glance up, she saw a reptilian head with huge teeth craning its neck to stare at her. Its two large cat-like eyes blinked and then the monster’s head leaned back and roared.
The fierce monster breath and spittle hit her face, causing her to cough as she fought to stay on the board. She gripped the board harder with her toes and tried to settle her weight as the board sped backwards.
Stay balanced, keep your weight low, she told herself.
She looked behind her and saw a giant staircase of boulders rising from the ocean. The staircase flexed and arched towards her as the monster snapped at her. Panic rose in her, clenching her chest.
Just ride it, she thought, repeating her instructor’s words like a mantra.
Her board raced down towards the beach. As she neared the ocean level, her ride smoothed out and she watched as the monster in front of her slowly slid back into the water. A quick glance behind her confirmed it as she saw the tail also go limp and slide back under the water.
Her board drifted to a halt onto the sandy beach as police officers and her parents rushed towards her.
“Honey, are you okay?” her mother asked, brushing her daughter’s hair out of her eyes.
The girl squirmed. “I’m fine, Mom.”
“Nice work, kid,” said one of the policemen over the squawking of his walkie-talkie. “If it hadn’t been for you, Honolulu would have been destroyed.”
The police officer scratched his cheek. “I don’t know how you did it, kid, but you managed to put that Godzilla to sleep. We’ve got a squad out to finish taking care of it.”
Her father wrapped a towel around her shoulders. “Come on, honey. Let’s get you dried off and go find some lunch.”
She gripped the towel and looked back at the ocean. The water was calm as if nothing had happened. “Can we make one stop first?”
Wait until she showed the kids at home her surfing badge. They would never believe she actually took a surfing lesson.
Copyright © 2017 by Andi Winter
“Surf’s Up” was first published in Out of Time and Other Very Short Stories
Published by Rainy Mountain Publishing
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places, and incidents in this story are either the products of the imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real people or incidents is coincidental. Really.