(condensed excerpt from the Storm Surge manuscript)
“James, let’s take Pacific Coast Highway this time.”
“Yes, Miss McKenzie.”
James moves the limousine effortlessly through the traffic. The road veers back along the ocean. In some places the elevation is ten to fifteen feet above sea-level. The limousine rounds a curve in the road, and I see the familiar sight I have been waiting for; Father’s beach.
“James, stop here for a minute, please.”
“Yes, Miss McKenzie.”
I expect James to stay with the car, like drivers do in movies, but he follows a few steps behind me.
Turning to face him, I say, “James, you don’t need to walk behind me. Come,” I stretch out my hand, “and walk with me.”
He hesitates a slight moment, nods to himself, and joins me, “Yes, Ma’am.”
He is old enough to be my father and he calls me, “ma’am.” I don’t like it, but I understand it is his job, so I let it be.
We walk from the parking lot to the beach through the tunnel under the highway.
James looks at the rock formations in the shallows, the sea birds perched on them, and the raising rock walls surrounding us. The waves are calm and the water is a deep blue.
“Isn’t it beautiful here, James?” I ask as if he’s a dear old friend.
We are standing side-by-side, looking straight out to the distant horizon. My arms are comfortably folded across the front of me. James has his hands casually in his pockets. It is as if the universe is standing still and we have this corner of it to ourselves. The sounds of the waves, the slight breeze, the clear water – everything is perfect.
“My mother always called this place, ‘Father’s Beach’,” I say aloud to my newest ‘best’ friend.
"I want to show you the next beach.” I move to where the wall of rocks meets the water. I hold my hand parallel to my shoulder with the palm facing him, indicating for him to wait. “When the wave goes out follow me. Run. Run fast when I tell you.”
Like waiting for a jump rope to swing out of the way, I gauge the motion of the waves. I wait for the biggest one in the series to pass, since it will recede the farthest and allow us more time to get around the rocks.
“Okay, get ready. Now! Go, now!” I run around the rocks through the temporary doorway the wave left behind when it went back to sea.
James clears the rocks before the next wave comes in. We both turn to watch the passageway disappear under water. The wave hits hard, then sprays into the air – majestically. James smiles a delighted smile, then we both laugh. His laugh is hearty and deep.
I show James the hidden entrance to the cave that leads to the next beach. He can touch the cave roof, if he stretches a bit. He is wearing dress shoes, so I advise caution on the wet sand and rock floor. I know we can only stay a short while because the tide is coming in and will trap us here if we aren’t alert, then we would have to mountain goat our way back up to the road.
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