We reached the spot where Debbie and Rose had dropped their towels and I laid mine carefully on the sand and sat down. Shawn flopped to the ground carelessly beside me and sat with his arm around one knee.
‘Do you want to swim, Molly?’
‘Oh, I don’t really like being in the waves. I like just sitting here.’
We fell silent again and I looked across the bay at the boats in the distance.
‘Do you still read lots of books?’
I smiled and said, ‘Of course I do’. I pulled ‘Pride and Prejudice’ out of my bag and showed it to him.
‘Do you want to read it together, like we used to do?’ he asked.
I told him he might find this book a bit boring, but he kept insisting so I opened it up and started reading the first chapter to him. He lay back on the sand with his arms behind his head and listened to me reading. Every now and then I would glance across at him laying there with his eyes closed and smile.
I was nearly finished the chapter when Neil and Michael came up to us carrying the surfboards.
‘Why aren’t you guys in the water?’ Neil asked.
Shawn sat up. ‘We were just waiting for the surfboards,’ he said.
‘Well you could have helped, you know.’
Neil dropped two surfboards on the sand and with one tucked under his arm he walked down the beach toward the waves.
‘So how about it, Blue?’ said Shawn, ‘Do you want to go in. I can show you how to float on a surfboard.’
He looked so eager for me to say ‘yes’ that I couldn’t help myself, even though I was still terrified of the waves and was worried about my broken leg. I slipped my sun dress over my head and then felt self conscious to be sitting there in just my swim suit. I stood up awkwardly with my crutches and wondered how I was going to do this.
Shawn picked up both boards and I followed him anxiously down to the edge of the water.
‘So what you need to do, Molly, is to lie on the board on your tummy and paddle with your arms. Just float like that and you’ll be fine.’ He walked into the water up to his knees and then dived forward onto the board and started paddling to show me what to do. ‘Just go in between the waves,’ he yelled back over his shoulder.
I could still hear Debbie and Rose squealing in the surf further out, but I stood there uncertainly wondering what to do with my crutches and how to leap on the board all in one motion. My dilemma must have suddenly dawned on Shawn because he turned and came back to shore.
‘Hang on, Molly. Let’s do it another way.’ He took my crutches and put them back above where the waves were washing against the sand then he held the board at the edge of the water where there was a little foam left from the last wave. ‘Okay, lay yourself on the board on your stomach.’
I got to my knees and crawled onto the board, then took a deep breath and closed my eyes as I felt Shawn pushing the surfboard out into the water. I could feel the board rocking under my tummy and after a few moments I opened my eyes when I realised I hadn’t tumbled into the water.
I looked across and Shawn was right beside me grinning. ‘Now paddle straight into the next wave and you should go right over the top.’ He had climbed on his board and I followed him as he started paddling like mad until I felt the water swell up underneath my board. My heart was racing and I was sure this time I would be thrown off. I didn’t want to even think about how I was going to swim with my broken leg if I ended up in the waves. But somehow I made it over the top with a splash of spray and then plummeted into the still water on the other side.
Before I knew it, we were way out in the deep water and when I turned the shoreline seemed to be so far away that I started to panic. The water looked so deep and if I fell off then I knew I would sink into the waves because I wouldn’t be able to swim with my broken leg and I knew I shouldn’t have come out here into the water, but then all of a sudden Shawn was right there beside me again. He reached out and took my hand. ‘It’s okay, Molly. Just keep paddling and you’ll be fine.’