An Ode to Summer
Audrey planted both of her feet in the sand. She took a long, drawn out breath of sea air and turned to face the headland. Surfers were rolling in one after another along the sprawling right-hand break.
‘Enough now,’ she thought to herself. Her mind had been racing as fast as the trees whipping past her open windows on the highway. She threw a floral blanket out in front of her, and curled up between a couple of rocks.
The ocean sparkled and smiled up at her as she leaned into the sea breeze. The shadows were beginning to stretch out across the sand and kiss the shoreline.
One by one, the surfers began to glide back in. Peachy tones were beginning to fill the sky while her eyes were fixed on one last surfer gracefully pulling his weight back and forth through the waves. Her stomach was all tied up in knots and she tried to push her overdue article to the back of her mind.
Once the stars had well and truly risen, she was shocked to see the final surfer running up the beach. He was back-lit by the full moon and droplets of water were flying off him, carving divots in the sand.
Audrey stuffed her rug back into her basket and scrambled off the headland back towards the carpark.
Her light cotton t-shirt caught on the car door as she briskly slid into her car. Her headlights lit up the sea haze and the engine coughed into gear as the lone surfer leaped over the bollard towards her. She released the hand break as fast as she could but it was too late. Blood was rushing into her cheeks and her heart was pumping as he tapped on her car window. Knowing better, she rolled down the window, allowing just a crack to appear.
He smiled down at her and casually leaned against the bonnet.
‘How was the sunset from up there tonight?’
‘Oh beautiful, just lovely,’ stuttered Audrey.
‘Yeah? It must have been. You’re out here pretty late.’
‘I’m sorry – I know. I completely lost track of the time.’
‘No need to apologise.’
‘Well I just hope I didn’t spook you.’
‘Spook me? I’m the one who’s about to ask you for a lift back into town.’
‘You didn’t bring a car?’
‘Down here? No, never. The walking track is too beautiful.’
‘Ok – well sure then. Can your board fit in the back seat?’
Leon rolled down the car windows and let the air barrage in as they took the winding road back into town. Audrey listened to Leon describe the sunset which they had both experienced with only a fraction of the ocean and a headland between them, while a rush swirled up from the deepest part of her stomach.
She stared into the steam clouds rising from her black coffee the next morning. As they meandered up the winding road, she had learned that Leon took photos for a living and was magnetically carefree. She had been laughing uncontrollably when they pulled up to his house, and there was something in the moment of pause he took before hopping out of the car.
‘Well maybe see you around Audrey,’ he’d mumbled as he maneuvered his board off the back seat.
She slid into her black one piece and made a move for the beach. The cicadas were roaring and the sickly-sweet smell of honey suckle seeped through the air. She inched along the walking track and brushed her hands along peeling patches of tree bark. The shadows swayed back and forth casting beautiful dappled light while she daydreamed about Leon paddling up waves, pausing briefly at the top and falling down the other side.
Audrey was hit by a wall of sun and squinted as she emerged from the trees, adjusting her eyes to the overexposed sand. She pulled out her notepad and started to scratch ink against the pages. The azure waters were crashing rhythmically and she scribbled to capture the moment.
Girl meets boy in the depths of summer. They lose their senses in the thick salty mist. Nothing bad could ever happen on a night like this...
Droplets of water hit the page her page and swelled out radially, blurring the edges of her ink stains. Leon’s broad shoulders cast a sharp shadow and the sun wrapped around his silhouette.
‘Fancy seeing you here again Audrey.’
He threw down his surfboard and landed softly on the sand next to her. Their arms touched and Audrey decided to stay put while ripples of lightness and abandon washed over her.
Her hair brushed through the sand as she placed her hands on her knees and sat up to meet his hazel-blue eyes. Longing for the pleasure of losing herself again she smiled.
‘I thought I could find you here.’
‘Where else would you be?’
‘You’re right. Today is ideal.’
There was weighted silence and summer heat while Audrey nervously looked for words. She leaned in but Leon’s eyes stayed locked on the horizon. ‘Oma is really pushing a big swell in. I haven’t seen the water amped up like this before.’
Audrey placed her palm on the back of his hand and pushed it softly into the sand. Before the daydreams of Leon pushing her through his front door could slip away, she pressed her kiss against his lips. In a moment of stillness between the next crashing wave, he softly bit her bottom lip and shot shivers right through her. As Audrey gripped Leon’s weathered hand tighter, he sat back and shook his head.
He didn’t run his hand through her hair like clockwork.
‘Audrey, you don’t want to get involved with someone like me.’
Her almond eyes darted across his tanned skin and salty lips.
‘You’re from out of town and I’m unreliable.’
‘Maybe that could be perfect…’
‘It doesn’t always end up like that. Trust me. It’s tempting. But you don’t know me.’
‘What is there to hide then?’
‘I’m not the one hiding from deadlines. Summer always comes to an end and I’m just not the type to stay put in winter.’
Audrey pushed back north while long golden grasses and weathered fence posts rushed past her car. Some people will always paddle out and away into deeper oceans, but she’d never give up on the sweet chase of her romantic notions.