“I’m happy to drive you the whole way,” Max says. But I just shake my head and open the door. It opens with that sorrowful groan of age that comes with vehicles that live so close to the sea. I like it. Comforting. Daddy’s bakkie sounded just like that. Ma sold it after he died. She can’t drive.
Max tosses a towel on the seat before climbing in. “Sorry it’s a mess.” A bit of pink pops up on his cheeks.
“I don’t mind,” I say, and it’s true. Max’s father is one of the smart doctors that works at the same hospital as Ma. That man could have bought Max a shiny new set of wheels. Instead, Max had to do odd jobs and save all his lifeguard money. Then his dad paid for half of this old thing.
“You looked good out there,” Max says.
I pull my eyes away from the window. “Um, thanks. You too.”
“Don’t let coach get you down. He just wants the team to do their best this year and we don’t have many girls on the team so –”
“Listen, I’ll put the footage on a memory stick,” Max says. “You can watch it tomorrow during break.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“How else you going to watch the practice footage? Come on Tazmin, I know you told coach you don’t have a computer to watch it off of and I’ve got a laptop, it’s no trouble.”
“Well, if you really don’t mind.”
“Why would I?”
I shrug. Everyone knows that a guy like him doesn’t hang out with a girl like me. I mean, maybe he means he’ll just hand me his laptop and leave. That’s probably it. Isn’t like I’d do anything to his laptop. I just need to see if my back is really bending like Sir said. Which is such a beginner mistake to make. I’m better than that.
Or at least I was better than that. When I first started, picking up one of those blue foam boards the surf schools leave out for kids like me to play around on, I never bent my back. That’s what got their attention. Sir keeps going on and on about how girls’ centre of gravity shifts as we develop, wrecking our balance. But I think I’m doing alright. Still feels good, fast and my sixteenth birthday is still five months away.
“Hey, did you think I was bending my back?” I ask Max.
He taps his fingers on the wheel. “I didn’t notice. But you’ll be able to see for yourself on the video, right?”
And then we’re pulling into the parking lot of Spar, situated right under the private hospital, looming up there like a beacon above the town, even higher than the lighthouse that is supposed to call the fishermen in. Not that most of them get private care when things go wrong. They go to provincial, or the grave.
“You sure you won’t let me drive you the rest of the way?” Max says, rolling to a stop.
“This is good, thanks.”
“Was a pleasure,” he says, and then he smiles that smile of his he gives to all the pretty girls. The ones that don’t go into the sea and wreck their hair. And now I’m feeling awkward and weird, because this is Max, one of the few surfers on the team who isn’t a stuck up jerk.
“See you tomorrow,” I say, shutting the door.
And then I’m running. Three blocks to go. Faster. Faster.
Tell us: What do you think Tazmin means when she says, “Everyone knows that guy like him doesn’t hang out with a girl like me”?