The Meeting

A friend had told me about an island just offshore – undulating dunes wreathed in she-oaks and banksias, long curving beaches covered in still-unremoved shells, and translucent waters – a respite from city confines, a chance to still the cacophony of my life. I simply hadn’t factored in the possibility that someone else might be there for the same reason.

Just arrived, I had unstrapped my ski, and was gauging the distance between the beach I was standing on and the distant shore of my destination.

“Are you paddling across to the island?”
I turned towards the voice. I’m still not sure what captured my attention first – her unashamed innocence, the modest disposition, or the freshness etched into her soft face.

She showed me the way across the channel – how to negotiate the rippling tidal currents that raced over shifting sandbars. Beaching our skis in a sheltered cove, we walked over flavescent dunes, already alive with the promise of a hot day, to the other side of the narrow island peninsula.

“Can you body surf?” she asked.
No challenge, just genuine inquiry mingled with the softest hint of anticipation.
I stared at the beach. Long orderly hypnotising swells were rolling towards us only to dash their perfect form in a rush of white water.
“Sure” I replied.
All my summer holidays had been spent at the beach, allowing a gangling country kid to emerge from the cocoon of rural life as a saltwater master.

I explained how to position herself, how to mould her long body to the form of the wave, to push forward with her delicate feet at just the right moment. Whether by design, sheer exuberance, or chance, the first wave rose awkwardly – and she with it – sending her careering forward in a tangle of limbs.

In a sudden panic, I sped to the crumpled form seeking assurance that our day had not abruptly end. Rising tentatively, her hands reached out for mine.
“Are you OK?!”
Through the wisps of matted hair, I found the reassurance of a spreading smile.
“Yeah, but I think I’ll stick to the ski!”

We took our place on the beach, consciously aware that something had transpired, but unsure of what would come next. The breeze sent a gentle shimmer through the spinifex that meandered over the dunes, creating that delicious feeling as it found equilibrium with the warmth of the sun. Here and there droplets of water coalesced on her tanned skin, sending rivulets down her thighs and forearms.

“It’s more beautiful than I imagined.”
“Yes. I come here as much as I can”, she said. “Especially now, before the real heat of summer. Sometimes you’re the only person here.”
There was indeed something special about this place.

We started to talk about our lives – families, friends, work – and then, tentatively at first, those enduring moments filled with precious memories.

And in this way, the script of a new life began.

The Meeting


Brisbane, Australia

  • Artist


short story

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