Stringers | Eight

Ages ago the universe had decided the sun would rise at 4:17am on this day. Given no argument to the contrary, that is exactly what happened as the veil of dawn lifted before a darkening menace of cloud. Throughout the night the winds had gained intensity, whistling through the straining limbs of the ancient rain forest dense with hemlock and red cedar. An occasional gust sent a shudder through Buttercup, a response to the impending storm with sounds from the ocean’s belly adding depth to a building, climatic orchestra.

Now with morning minutes old, a finger of light probed the shadows of the cliff-side campsite, finding a gap in the blinds that shielded the van’s windows and taking a poke at Caspar’s forehead. Unaware of the source of his irritation, Caspar raised a hand to swat away the annoyance that penetrated his waking dreams. As the sun arced higher in the early sky, warmth emanating from the finger spread across Casper’s face until he could no longer deny the calling.

Feigning sleep, the girl peered in silence between folded arms as the young man gained his feet, stretched, and surveyed a pile of gear laid out before him. Red waterproof pack, full-body wetsuit, wax, leash and a small stuff-sack of food, all appeared to meet Caspar’s approval as he nodded a silent ‘let’s do it’. Dressed only in cotton shorts he opened the van’s side sliding door and stepped down barefooted on to the hard-packed earth and stone covered in a carpet of old-growth detritus.

Present, he stood alert, absorbing the sights and sounds of the moment. Above, the forest canopy filtered the sun and blocked out a sky packed ever tighter by the angry storm. Below, the sound of the tide and waves, angered by onshore wind and rising sea level, sang alongside the frantic cry of a flock of gulls blown out of formation. To the west, Tatoosh Island shimmered in the distance, bejewelled behind a caul of silver-grey fog.

Returning his attention to Buttercup, Caspar retrieved the surfboard from the rooftop carrier, felt the weight, comforted by the familiar lines and curve of the rail. Satisfied with things as they were, he propped the board against the moss-covered trunk of an enormous Douglas-fir, retreating to the shelter of Buttercup as the first drop of rain pierced the umbrella of evergreens. Shrugging on an old hooded sweatshirt, and lacing up a worn pair of leather boots, he collected the wet-pack, transferred the neoprene suit and other essentials to the red bag, rolled the top over twice, snapped the clip ensuring the seal. Casting a tentative glance in the girl’s direction, he shouldered the load and slipped out once again, this time with no plans to return.

to be continued

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