I focus on the screen. It takes me awhile to locate Max. But eventually I spot him, by a flash of green from his wicked custom Davey board. It’s the only one like it in the water. He’s sitting out there, bobbing away, all natural and relaxed.
I’m easy to spot, the only dark face out there. I’m also the only one wearing two plaits. The other two girls, Carly and Karin, wear their long shiny blond locks in one long French plait that reaches the small of their backs. They’re not related, but in the water they look like twins.
Max pops a bite of sushi in his mouth and chews while he messes around with the video. “Ah,” he says, “here we are.”
And there I go, surfing my wave. I remember that one. It was a fast ride, the fastest I’d had that day. But even from the distance, I can see what the problem is. It’s not what I thought.
“See,” Max says, pointing at the screen, “it’s not really your back, but you’re hunching your shoulders.” He glances over at me. “In fact, you’re doing it right now.”
“Hunching, as if you’re trying to hide something.”
I look down at my chest, and see it looking right back at me. Blasted things are getting bigger. Not that I wanted to be flat-flat. A girl likes to fill out her clothes a little. But they’re already starting to feel heavy. I hope they stop soon. Not only will Ma complain if we have to buy new bras, but all the best female surfers seem to be on the smaller end of the bikini top.
“Here,” Max says, and his hands come down on my shoulders. “Roll them back, that’s right, like that. See, now you’re sitting up straight.”
Yeah, I’m sitting here, all right, with his hands on my shoulders. The scary part is, I kind of like it. But it’s awkward, and we’re out here on the grass, with the whole school milling about. People are watching. They’ll start talking and then Max will hear it and then he’ll feel like he has to explain that we’re just surf buddies and then I’ll never be able to look him in the face again.
“Now,” Max says, completely oblivious to my mental monologue, “see if you can keep them like that for the rest of lunch.”
I nod. Which pulls the tendons, making me even more aware of the weight of his touch.
“Oh,” he says, removing his right hand and starts tap-tap-taping on the keys. “I looked up some exercises for this. Because that’s all you’re really doing wrong. I watched it yesterday, and the rest of it is just little things here and there. This is the only consistent problem.”
“Um, thanks,” I say.
And that’s how we spend the whole break, him sitting on the grass next to me, one hand on my shoulder, while we go over the exercises he’s found and watch the rest of the footage.
Probably best if Ma doesn’t hear about this. She’d get ideas and it’s nothing like that. I don’t attract boys like Justine did. I just don’t.
Tell us: Do you think Max views Tazmin as only a “surf buddy”?