I swallow hard, willing my eyes to meet his. Not that he is a terribly tall man, most surfers are not. But he’s still taller than me, older than me and, unlike everybody else, if I make him angry I can’t just train on my own, hire a new coach. Sir is it. Yet. “I’m sorry, Sir. I’ll do my best, but I have to obey my ma. But I’ll always be here when I can.”
His eyes narrow. “What’s the problem, exactly?”
I almost laugh in his face, because it’s just too-too funny. What’s the problem? What isn’t the problem? But Ma says, “Don’t be hanging out all our dirty laundry,” so all I say is, “It’s complicated, Sir.”
He takes a deep breath, like he’s gonna let me have it. Preacher on Sundays does it all the time. That huge breath is gathering fire to give me a roasting. So I turn my head and look out across the bay. There on the other side of the water is the mountains. Today the air is clear, making the colour pop out of them like CGI on the movie screen.
I turn back my gaze and face him, water still trickling out of my hair like the leaky tap in the bathroom Ma keeps grumbling about. “That’s money draining away, plain and simple,” she says. But neither of us has been able to fix it.
“Tazmin, I’m not trying to be the bad guy here,” Sir says. “You’ve got a lot a talent. Great potential. But talent and potential are worthless if you don’t practice. You put enough effort in this year and I think you’ve got a good shot at making the nationals in Cape Town.”
I nod. Nothing he is saying is wrong. And I’d love to go to Cape Town, not just for the nationals but to see the place. Never been. But knowing he is right and being able to fix it are two different things.
Sir shakes his head. “Right, I’ll let you go. Know you’ve got a taxi to catch.”
“Thank you, sir,” I say, and scram.
Footsteps follow, slap, slap, slap. “Yo, Tazmin, wait up.”
I glance over to see Max racing after me in his slops, wetsuit hanging from his waist, chest bare. I raise my chin, trying to keep my eyes up. Not that Max is doing anything bad, but it feels funny looking at him without being covered up. “I gotta go,” I tell him.
“Coach said I could give you a lift.” He gestures towards the nearest parking lot, “my bakkie is just there. Not a problem.”
It’s a big problem, if Ma hears about it and thinks I’m up to no good. But I’m running late and if I don’t get to Gabriel in time then there will be a fine and Ma will be so angry even the sharks will be running from Mossel Bay. “If you drop me off at Spar, that would be great, thanks,” I say.
Tell us: Do you think Tazmin should be accepting a ride from Max?