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Image by Silas Baisch

WAVE

June 6, 2021

Wave was longlisted from 1500+ submission in Australian Writers' Centre June 2021 Furious Fiction. You get 48 hours over a weekend to write a 500-word story with a certain criteria. Inevitably, the bulk of rewriting and last-minute tweaks occurs on Sunday night after procrastinating most of the weekend. Submission criteria:
Your story must include (word for word) the following SEVEN descriptions at any point in your story body (i.e. not in the title): THICK AS HONEY, SILENT AND STILL, GOLDEN GLOW, HEART-SHAPED, DELICATE PERFUME, SOFT AND DOUGHY, RAZOR-SHARP.

Wave: Work

The surfer drops his board onto the sand and rubs wax along its rails. The delicate perfume of vanilla mixed with the salty brine of the ocean reminds him of her.
He shivers, not from the cold. 
The ritual of strapping the leash around his ankle and tightening the wetsuit’s zipper comforts him slightly.
Tucking the board under one arm, he holds the heart-shaped box in the other. Staring at the great expanse, he wonders whether he can face what’s ahead. 
The wind caresses and nudges him forward.
He paddles out towards the bulging sun over the horizon, its golden glow washing shades of pink and purple across the sky.
He dives beneath the breakers, holding the box tight to the surfboard.
Even with the box, the paddle should be easy, but the emptiness in his chest makes his arms weak. The whitewash feels thick as honey, and he’s exhausted when he finally makes it out.
Sitting on his board, bobbing like a cork, he waits patiently. 
Cracking his neck, he glances towards the empty shore and the single set of footprints in the soft and doughy sand. 
Opening the box, he takes a breath.
He scatters the ashes into the wind and lets the box float off with the tide.
The charcoal ashes loop and swirl, rising into the clear sky and peppering the ocean’s skin. 
A single tear drops from his cheek and into the ocean.
As though the sea is aware that the moment is over, it begins to swell and rise.
A heaving set rolls in.
The wave chooses him; a monster.
The one he’s waited for his whole life.
He paddles like a madman, becoming one with the wave propelling him forward. He pops up and takes off, his fingers trailing along the wave’s glassy face. He turns and cuts the wave’s crest, dropping as a perfect barrel curls over and envelopes him like a vast tunnel. 
It’s perfect.
In that moment, there’s no death, only him and the wave.
There’ll never be another one like it.
The barrel opens up and he aims for the peak, ready to bail, but the wave hits a sandbank and closes out, violently tossing him around inside the world’s biggest washing machine. 
A beautiful moment changed in an instant.
As he struggles for the surface, the undertow pulls him back down.
He screams and swallows a mouthful of water when the razor-sharp surfboard fin cuts his leg. His lungs burn for air.
Fingers of sunlight beckon him from the murky depths.
It takes the last of his strength to break the surface and draw a breath.
He rests on his board and shuts his eyes. 
He asks her whether he should give up and head to shore.
For a moment, the surfer is silent and still, then smiles and paddles back out again.

Wave: Text
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