Chapter Nine

Take me down to the ocean
Take me down to the sea
Set the feeling in motion
So you can just be you and I can just be me
That's how I need to be

-“Take Me Down to the Ocean”

I picked my way through the shrubbery on the hill leading down to the beach, and once I had reached the sand I kicked off my sandals and dug my feet under the still cool sand. I looked out into the ocean and saw him there. A lone body in the vastness of the water. He looked very small out there all by himself, and I saw him wait out two waves before a large one had made it’s way closer to the shore. I flipped my hair away from my face and sat down a few feet from where the tide was inching closer to the sand and watched him ride in on the wave. He must have sensed that someone was watching him because he looked up and smiled at me. When he came in, he walked up the shore and put his board down next to me.

“Hey! You’re up early Tiny Dancer.”

“So are you” I nodded to his surf board, “do you always come out this early?”

“Every day. It’s really...calming when there’s no one here yet.” I smiled.

“You don’t like surfing with your friends then?”

“No, of course I do. It’s just, coming out here now, when there’s no one else here gives me time to think about things... be with the ocean.” he wiped some water off his forehead and grinned. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here, especially not this early. Do you always get up this early?”

I nodded, “actually, I’m usually up earlier, but I’m on vacation.” he laughed a bit.

“How long have you been surfing?” I asked looking at his surf board.

“Ah...that’s a tough one to figure out really.” He pushed his hair back with his hands and looked out toward the water. “Probably since I was about... five? My dad took me out here for the first time when I was real little. He was determined that I’d be a surfer.” he paused, and looked back at me and smiled. His eyes were shining as he continued, “Lucky for me, I liked it. It keeps me sane.”

“I don’t know much about surfing...I don’t know anything about it really, other than you’re supposed to stay on the board,” he laughed, “but you must be really good at it...at least that’s what I’ve heard from Evan and Vi.” He smiled.

“They’re very nice.”

“You’re awfully humble. Evan thinks you‘re the best surfer ever.” he laughed again and I hoped he would continue to do so because his laugh was like music.

“Nah...I mean, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t good. I should be after 13 years of surfing, but I’m not the best...there are plenty of surfers who are better than I am.”
There was a pause, and Stephen looked right into my eyes, and I thought I would melt into a puddle. We sat there for a moment, just looking at each other, and he reached out his hand and ran the pad of his thumb along my cheek. I smiled and tilted my head down, letting him run his hand through my hair. I took a deep breath letting my senses loose themselves in everything around me. I closed my eyes, and suddenly all I could hear was the ocean, and Stephen’s slow breathing.

Suddenly we were interrupted by shouting, “Brenna!! Sting!!” I turned around quickly, and Stephen jumped a bit. There running down the beach with his board was Evan. In a cloud of dust he came bounding across the sand, kicking up bits of beach rocks and shell pieces as he ran.

“Brenna, dude, what are you doing without a bathing suit? Vi is all psyched about getting ready for you to learn how to surf.” I stood up , and brushing the sand off my shorts and legs turned toward the house again.

“Well, I better get changed then.” I smiled and sprinted back up the beach, stopping at the path up the hill to put my shoes back on. I glanced behind me at Stephen and Evan, they were both watching me and Stephen waved. I waved back still warm inside from the moment we had shared. I wondered if I was reading too much into it, and continued toward the house. When I got back to the house Taylor was in the kitchen on the phone. When he saw me come in, he waved me over and put his hand over the mouthpiece “Brenna, your dad is on the phone wanna say hey?” I smiled, and took the phone from him.

“Daddy!”

“Hey hey How is my favorite daughter?” I laughed

“Well, I’m not sure, lemme ask her..”

“Ha, you’re a crack up, just like your old man, How’s it hanging short stuff?”

“It’s great dad! You should see the ocean, it’s even more beautiful than I remember it from last time.”

“Could that have anything to do with a certain surfer I’ve been hearing about?”

“DAD!”

“What? I heard it through the grapeviiine.” he began to sing.

“Fine...maybe...just maybe that has a little, tiny sliver of something to do with it. But only maybe...nothing definite here.” He laughed a bit.

“Well, whatever it is, I’m glad you’re having a good time, and hey, Your mom and I are coming out later in the summer.”

“Both of you? I thought only you were coming for the big thing.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll be there for about a week before your mom can get out there. She moved some things around so she could be there for it. Pretty exciting stuff you know... being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

“Yeah...” I still didn’t completely understand what was going to happen, to me my dad and his brothers were just Dad, Uncle Ike and Uncle Tay. There wasn’t really anything terribly exciting about them. I’d been on tour with them, and it was fun, but I didn’t see them as a band. They were just my family.

When I was finished talking to my father I handed the phone back to Uncle Taylor and headed upstairs to Viola’s room.

“Hey, Viola!” I knocked on her door and she threw it open wearing a huge grin.

“You, my dear cousin, have to look extra cute today.” I smiled.

“And why is that?” I asked as she dragged me into my room and began going through the bags I had brought with me.

“Because, we are going to teach you how to surf, and don’t think I haven’t noticed the way you look at Sting, not to mention this morning.” She raised her eyebrows and began to laugh.

“I think you dear cousin, may be overreacting.” I said blushing. Finding my bathing suits, she carried them, and dragged me back to her room.

“Right, you can tell yourself whatever you want, but it isn’t going to change how you’re practically drooling over him. So, we’re going to speed things up a bit.” I looked at her suspiciously.

“What do you mean? Speed things up?” I crossed my arms over my chest. I had a bad feeling about this. Especially since Viola was now coming at me with a small red bikini.

“This, is going to be perfect.” she nodded and shoved me toward her closet to change.

“Are you sure this is good for...surfing?” I asked coming out of the closet, being sure to keep my arms close over my body.

“Yes, I’ve worn it surfing once, now would you please move your arms?” I looked at her, and sighed.

“Vi, this is so not me. I feel half naked.”

“Exactly, you look awesome!” I looked at myself critically in the mirror. Okay, so I didn’t look half bad, it wasn’t like I was fat or anything, dancing certainly helped that, in fact, I felt overly skinny. I certainly didn’t have the figure Viola did.

“If it really bothers you,” she started and tossed me a small t-shirt. “Here, put that on, and I’ll tie it up for you. I carefully pulled the tight pink t-shirt over my head, it was a Hanson t-shirt. I laughed.

“What is this, advertisement?” Viola laughed, and taking a rubber band knotted the shirt high up in the back.

“Okay, I still feel naked, but thanks.” she nodded.

“You look really great Brenna.”

“Thanks. Are we ready?” She pushed a pair of sunglasses on her head and nodded.

“Here we go!”

When we got back to the beach, I was suddenly very nervous. What if I sucked at surfing? What if I was so bad Stephen thought I was a complete idiot?

“You look so cute Brenna.” Viola said dragging me down the hill.

“Hey hey ladies, now I recognize, this one, this one is my sister...now who is that hot chick you got with you?” I giggled, Evan pulled Stephen and another guy that had been standing with him toward us.

“Hey guys! Hiya Mark, haven’t seen you in a while.” Viola flipped her hair over her shoulder and turned slightly away from him.

“Yeah, been uh... busy.” he answered. Viola snorted, and pushed me toward Stephen.

“Okay, we have to teach this one how to surf.”

“You are so white Brenna! Man, don’t they have that thing called sunlight in Tulsa?” Evan laughed.

“Hey...just because I don’t go to the beach all the time....” I looked down, I really was pale, “Okay...let’s just start surfing.”

“Okay...okay...so Brenna, you can use this one...it’s Viola’s old one....” Evan started, pointing toward the board in the sand.

“Yeah...don’t mind those pussy stickers she put all over it.” Mark snickered.

“Hey asshole, why don’t you shut the fuck up? Those weren’t ‘pussy stickers’ when you gave them to me...shit head.” Viola dragged her surfboard to the water and began to paddle out.

“Smooth move Mark...yeah ‘I really missed her, think she’ll get back together with me?” mocked Evan. “yeah right dumb ass. Good luck now, you just pissed her off even more. If I were you, I‘d watch my back.”

“Whatever man...whatever” Mark shrugged, “I’m outta here....nice to meet you Brenna.” and then he turned and left.

“He really pisses me off.”

“Yeah...he’s an ass.” Stephen agreed, “but uh...anyway...yeah” there was an awkward pause.

“So, how do I start?” I asked, dragging Viola’s old surf board over to where Stephen and Evan were standing. Both laid their boards down on the sand and sat on them. “Is this all there is to it? I could get very good at sitting on my ass.” Evan laughed, “No, sorry dudette, if you want to catch some totally gnarly waves you gotta hang loose.” I raised an eyebrow, and sat on my board as well.

“He’s joking” Stephen said giving Evan a small punch in the arm.

“Old surfer slang...” Evan said laughing at me.

“Very, old surfer slang” Stephen added. “But, uh, anyway...so, surfing.. Well, really, the first thing you wanna do is Sit and watch the water for a while. Check out the karma so to speak. Watch what people are doing. Where is everybody sitting, where do they paddle out. Where do the waves break? If everyone is sitting farther out than where the waves are currently breaking, it means that there are bigger sets coming. Watch for them. And you can’t ever, ever, ever forget to stretch. While you're watching the break, stretch your arms and back, you’ll thank me later.”

“So, is this my first lesson? Sit and watch the water? I like that idea...”

“ahhh you learn well grasshopper.” Evan pointed out to the water. “See Viola, see where she’s sitting out there...she’s pretty far out, cause as waves get bigger they break further out.” I nodded, this didn’t seem so complicated. Where’s the challenge? It was simple logic. Waves are bigger further out, so you go further out. Go where the waves are. Duh.

“Okay, lesson number two.” Evan began rummaging through a small bag I recognized as Viola’s beach bag, and pulled out a round bar of what looked like soap.

“Soap? What, do I have to wash the board now?”

“Sex Wax.” smiled Stephen holding the cake proudly.

“Sex wax? You don’t say...” Stephen tossed it to me and took my right hand and showed me how to wax the board. If I do say so myself, I was quite good at waxing a surfboard.

After the waxing, Evan and Stephen showed me how to paddle out, and while I spent most of my first attempt at surfing under water, coking on brine, I enjoyed myself immensely. Stephen was always there when I was about to wipe out, and helped me back up and onto shore when I had what I believed to be a near death experience. It wasn’t until the sun was beginning to set that I realized I had been in the water almost the entire day, and it felt incredible.