What I Remember
Here is what I remember. The immense boil of water that preceded the dark girth of the shark as it came up between us and rolled, one eye blankly gazing, a fin the size of a boogie board trailing, a smear of white water remaining.
And then side by side we were paddling towards the shore, my gut heavy with fear and everything slowing down like being stoned. I remember the deck of my board and the red colour of the spray on the fibreglass foam.
I remember looking up and seeing the beach still far away and empty of onlookers. I turned to look at Steve across the two metres between us, his neoprene arms ploughing the sea, his eyes wide and his upper jaw muscles spasming under the stubble irregularly, like the waves that were rolling under us, too small to break and take us to the shore.
He looked at the ocean behind us, to see if the shark was following or for waves that would pick us up. I remember praying that a rolling white wash would take us all the way to the beach. And we would collapse on the sand with a story for the rest of our lives and warmth in our wetsuits where we pissed ourselves.
He looked back at me and said between heaving sobs of breath, “ Its behind us. I saw its fin. Don’t look, just keep paddling”
But I had to look to see what was coming and it was then that the shark hit him.
He actually flew over me with the impact. The shark had come up and under and launched him and his board into the air. And now he floated stunned on one side of me and his board upturned on the other. Both joined by the legrope that was now running between them over the twitching muscles of my lower back.
The shark came again and hit the surfboard dead centre. Took it in jaws a metre across and shook it and took it under. I remember I was no longer silent but screaming and that was when the legrope pulled tight and a shaking, silent Steve knocked me off my board as he was dragged into me by the shark and we tumbled together in the water. Steve and I were climbing over each other to stay on the surface and grab my board and live and that’s when at last the waves came without warning and we were driven down and apart.
After a while I came up. I had been pushed far in and was whimpering with fear and gasping for air. I looked for the shark. I looked for Steve.
I swam for my board and got up out of the ocean and I was alone. A little away there were bubbles and the ocean had changed colour. Something that might have been a piece of a surfboard floated too. And that’s what I remember.