A Creative Writing Piece: “Surfer On Board! Or Off…”

I+used+to+have+a+dream+%E2%80%94+a+surfing+one+%E2%80%94+until+I+almost+died.+I+wanted+to+be+the+next+Bethany+Hamilton%2C+but+minus+losing+one+arm.+And+when+and+where+else+to+learn+how+to+surf+than+when+I+was+seven+at+Caswell+Beach%2C+in+North+Carolina+%E2%80%94+a+place+where+my+family+rented+a+home+on+the+beach+every+year.+Now+I+know+that+I+should+stick+to+sandcastles.

BBC

I used to have a dream — a surfing one — until I almost died. I wanted to be the next Bethany Hamilton, but minus losing one arm. And when and where else to learn how to surf than when I was seven at Caswell Beach, in North Carolina — a place where my family rented a home on the beach every year. Now I know that I should stick to sandcastles.

Charlotte Wagner, Freelancer

I used to have a dream — a surfing one — until I almost died. I wanted to be the next Bethany Hamilton, but minus losing one arm. And when and where else to learn how to surf than when I was seven at Caswell Beach, in North Carolina — a place where my family rented a home on the beach every year. Now I know that I should stick to sandcastles.

The morning I set out to surf, the sun was bright as it had recently risen over the sky that was dotted with minuscule clouds, and the grainy sand burned my feet as I sprinted with my little seven-year-old body down to the beach

“I AM GOING TO SURF ON MY OWN!” I howled in joy; I had finally turned seven so that meant my parents would let me surf on my own surfboard. I used to go with my cousin on the same board which is fun, but how was I going to shred gnarly waves when I was always being pulled into the water because my cousin Finn had lost his balance and dragged me in along with him? I had to surf on my own board. 

“We know,” I heard in response, as I was pulled out of my thoughts….

My sister scowled at me from the deck because she doesn’t like surfing and would much rather be buried in sand to her neck by my younger cousins. But I wouldn’t let her annoyance ruin my joyous mood. 

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if we were allowed to surf on the small private beach, but that never stopped my crazy huge family, and now I was going to be one of them as I made my way to the water. The air was thick with triumph and the sun beat down on my recently-sunblocked glistening body. As I danced over beach chairs and bags of sand toys, the pink frills on my two-piece bathing suit dancing with me, I impatiently waited for my mom and the rest of my huge family to join me and my dad, who I begged to come with me so I could be one of the first in the water. Just like my uncles and all of my elder male cousins, I too had a hunger for the waves. Even now, surfing or not; I am, as my mom says, “a fish by heart.” So when my mom let me know that this year I could surf on my own?! I was ecstatic! 

The water was grimy and green like always. My Uncle Kevin loves surfing probably the most and had told my dad to lead me off with a couple of small waves to get me started, so, my dad strapped the cord on my surfboard to my ankle and helped me carry it out to sea.

“Okay Charlotte, I will push you with the wave and you have to  stand up as fast as you can to ride the waves out.”

I nodded to my dad; I had never been happier in my life.

I easily rode some small waves, nothing I couldn’t glide over. Suddenly, I saw it — the big momma of all waves, the mac daddy for a seven-year-old surfer.

“You got this one?” my dad asked.

I laughed and nodded as if I was a superhero going into battle at least that’s what I felt like at the time. My family cheered, whooped, and hollered as my dad slowly pushed me as the tsunami of a wave flew towards me.

I stood… I kept my stance…. I WAS DOING IT! 

Nope, no I wasn’t. 

I was slammed to the ground as my surfboard went belly-up from the wave pushing under it. I tried to stand, but the current pushed me under and toppled me around like one of those tumbleweeds in the background of old-fashioned shoot-offs.

I rolled, and rolled, and rolled some more. I kept my eyes clamped shut, hoping to keep some of the salty water out of my eyes. Then there was a loud boom! My ankle strap had betrayed me and the surfboard was (unknowing to me), flying back at me. The fins on the surfboard slammed into the back of my head and I felt a sharp pain before it all was dark.”

— Charlotte Wagner

I rolled, and rolled, and rolled some more. I kept my eyes clamped shut, hoping to keep some of the salty water out of my eyes. Then there was a loud boom! My ankle strap had betrayed me and the surfboard was (unknowing to me), flying back at me. The fins on the surfboard slammed into the back of my head and I felt a sharp pain before it all was dark.

Sounds traumatic right? Well, don’t worry. I didn’t die. You can’t kill me that easily!

My uncle lifted me from the water as I flopped like a limp fish, my eyes opening to see everyone huddling around me. 

“Did I ride the wave?” were the first words out of my mouth.

Yep. The first thing I sputtered after I almost DIED was to see if I made it. 

“Charlotte, are you okay?” my mom asked me.  At the moment what actually occurred set in and I burst into tears, barely even stopping for the oxygen I needed. She sat me down with my aunts and my infant cousins who stared at me momentarily before continuing their dirty mud spas on my Aunt Jess’s legs. I calmed down and my parents and I saw that I wasn’t seriously injured, other than now having a big bump on the back of my head that bruised quickly. 

I now joke about this whole incident as a funny story to look back on, but still, to this day, will never see me on a surfboard. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t see me in the ocean. Half an hour after the surfboard disaster,  I was back out in the ocean, swimming with my cousins like I always do.