Back on the water, sitting on my board, I feel my body relax all the way to my bones. The rolling waves ride underneath me, making me bob like a rubber duck in a bathtub. It’s soothing. This is my time, where nothing much is happening as the rest of the team takes their waves. I’m always last in the line up. Max is always first. It isn’t just that I’m a girl, it’s that I’m a slow swimmer. Strong and steady like the tortoise in the stories. I get there eventually.
I don’t mind. Once I have my wave, do what I do, nobody remembers how slow I am to paddle out. They just see me surfing, owning that wave, as I zip-zip along. Some of the stunts I can do even Max struggles with, and he’s the best on the team.
Another set comes along, and I begin to count. Sets are series of waves. These are the ones the surfers want; the rest is crumbly, useless water. The ocean moves in a pattern, although each surfing spot has its own quirks, each tide plays its own tune. But once you learn the ocean’s rhythm, how it’s dancing that day, you can start to predict how hard that water is going to rush at you, where it will try to push you, so you can start making a plan of how you’ll ride.
But this set isn’t for me; I’ll be in the next. Even so, I pull my feet out of the water, flip off my butt and on to my belly. The view isn’t as good from this direction. All those people at the restaurant on the shore, the walkers, the little kids playing in the tidal pool after school, some of them running around in nothing but their underwear. But it’s all okay, because they’re not really looking at me, I’m just another body clad in black neoprene. It is safe out here.
Because that’s when I spot it. A dark dorsal fin skimming by on my right. Fast and deadly. My insides are screaming at me to run. But I stay quiet, calm, exactly as we’ve been told, should this horror ever occur.
Oh so carefully, I pull my entire body out of the water, balancing on my belly on the board, body shaped in a U, like one of those well-to-do yoga women on the TV commercials. And I hold still. Might be hunching my shoulders these days, but I’ve got abs and a strong lower back, and I’m working it all. Not even breathing. Out front, I see the rest of the team has caught the set, and road into shore, oblivious. I realise Sir is blowing his whistle and waving at me like crazy, but it’s too late. The Great White is already here, circling.
Tell us: What would you do if you were in the water and a shark swam by?