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It was at the beach Trent saw her for the first time.
He’d been sauntering down to the water’s edge surf board dragging in the sand for his usual morning tryst with ocean waves. Scores of boarders were already in the water and there were a few families slowly making their way over rocks while their little children shouted with delight at each new discovery between rock pools.
He loved his quick surfing routine of a morning before heading for work as an apprentice builder. While there was always full house on the waves early in the morning he liked the fact you could walk around without tripping over rows of sunbaking bodies at that hour of the day. Beach population exploded about the time he was headed for work later on.
Normally he’d be focused on the technique of wave riders and trying to search out regular surfing buddies, but in scanning the waves something alerted him attention was needed closer at hand. Trent paused and stared; barely conscious his surf board had fallen onto the sand and he was looking rather foolish.
“You dropped your board Amigo!” This was in a California accent which seemed to Trent accompanied by the music of heaven. Trent’s angel smiled and bent to stroke the surf board with a practiced touch.
“A real professional finish” she said. “Which company put this one together?”
“I put it together myself” Trent offered in his Eastern Australia accent.
The angel smiled nodding her head in appreciation as she stroked the board.
Trent was usually quick on the take with ways to capture attention of beauties on the beach afternoons when he returned from work to surf away remaining hours of the day, and he did have a troop of admirers, but this had caught him off guard. Was it the accent that neutralized his charm, or was it just this was the most gorgeous girl he’d ever laid eyes on?
“Sorry, I should have introduced myself, I’m Anita!” The angel extended her hand.
Trent regained his composure and shook her hand. “Hi Anita, I see you know quite a bit about surf boards. I suppose you ride them too?
Anita stroked the board again and nodded. “We do surf in sunny California too,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Did you bring your board with you?” Trent looked around expecting to see a group of California surfers sporting their colourful boards ready to take the plunge.
“Actually I did, but it was somehow lost in transit and the airline is still trying to find it,” Anita screwed up her mouth crossly, and then laughed.
“You can have mine for the day and I’ll pick it up in the afternoon after work,” Trent said hopefully. This was really a big concession as no one rode Trent’s board but Trent. He’d put too many hours into making it to risk anyone damaging it. He froze momentarily thinking of what he’d just said, but after taking another look at Anita he recognized a kindred spirit and relaxed.
“Are you serious?” Anita looked hopefully at Trent, and then back at the board.
“Yes, take it, I really should be getting ready for work, but how can I find you in the afternoon to get it back?”
“I’ve a room on the first level over the shop there,” she said pointing toward a shop surfers frequented. “Room 2; should be back there by 4pm.”
Trent departed with mixed feelings. That surf board hadn’t been out of his sight for a year both in the making then for the first practice runs. The board had performed perfectly, seemingly moulded to his feet as he made his moves in the waves. But could he trust this California angel to be there when he finished work in the late afternoon?
But she was there in the evening and as they sat in the shop enjoying fries and a burger each they swopped stories of their childhood.
Anita’s father was an army officer, always on the move. Her Mother had tired of the lifestyle and on Anita’s graduation evening announced she was divorcing Anita’s father but continuing to live at their Malibu Beach California home where Anita had grown up and developed her love of surfing.
Trent had been raised in Sydney Australia where his father was a local politician and mother a suburban bank manager. Trent had attended one of the schools of the affluent and excelled in academic and sporting pursuits then moved on to University.
However he chafed under his father’s constant pressure to enter the political fraternity and with one year to go on his University studies left home without warning, heading for life on the Gold Coast where he could think through his career options uninterrupted. He was soon drawn to beach life and a group of friends who were part of the building trade.
Trent by then in need of money took employment in the building trade and found to his surprise he liked it. He’d a natural aptitude for the trade and took pride in the perfection of his work. It was then he and his friends began to experiment with making surf boards on which Trent practiced meticulous care.
He was surprised when Anita reached across the table and took his hand. “That’s quite a story,” she said softly. She removed her hand quickly.
Trent didn’t detect any ulterior motive behind this spontaneous gesture. He’d summed Anita up as a level headed woman who was searching for something in life which she’d not found yet, but who would tolerate no nonsense, or for that matter a short term fling. She’d been obviously moved as she matter-of-factly discussed the breakup of her parent’s marriage. It was obvious she adored the both of them and yearned for family harmony she’d experienced in her growing up years.
Trent felt a lump in his own throat as he’d listened to Anita’s story. His parents had been distraught when he’d left home without notice or any indication as to where he was going. Trent’s father had pulled strings with the police to find out what had happened to him, and eventually he was located on the Gold Coast.
He remembered how his parents had found him and pleaded with him to come home. His academic achievements were being wasted and he only needed a year to finish his university studies they’d pointed out. Eventually in frustration they’d returned to Sydney trying to figure out what had gone wrong with their plans for his future. His Mother hadn’t given up on him and wrote to him regularly keeping him up to date on events at home. Trent made a mental note to try and repair the hurt he’d caused while firmly remaining committed to choosing his own career.
He looked at Anita and smiled. “I think we both have something in common, both of us are searching for something and don’t quite know what it is!” He laughed while Anita nodded silently.
Trent didn’t succumb to his usual plan to charm this girl on his immediate horizon into submission, and he realized that wouldn’t work with
Anita anyway. He was just content to sit with her as a friend and watch the beach crowd gear up for the customary night program. They sat that way for a long time in silent contemplation.
Finally Anita said, “I guess I’d better turn in for the night.”
Trent looked up in surprise. “Are you leaving the coast so soon?
It was Anita’s turn to act surprised. “No, I intend to holiday in the country for a while. I might check out the Barrier Reef and Ularu. I haven’t really decided how I’m going to fill in my time yet. I really miss my board though and hope they find it soon. Actually, I don’t have any firm plans except when I return home to CA in six months I’m going to settle into a nursing career. I’ve passed my nursing boards. Nursing appeals to me.”
Spontaneously Trent blurted it out. “There’s a shortage of nurses here,” he said hopefully?
Anita laughed, but when she saw Trent was not joking but quite serious she stopped and studied him carefully.
“What are you saying Trent?”
For the first time in his life Trent blushed and looked away. He was not even sure himself what he said and why. He’d had a serious discussion with someone and opened up his inner most thoughts, something which he was always careful not to do. Then he realized this stranger had also opened up to him. He shook his head in surprise and wished he’d been more careful. Where was the old charmer Trent who thought of himself as God’s gift to women. He was not so confident now.
Anita shrugged and said, “I’m going up for some shut eye, it’s been a heavy day for me out on the waves, and you really have a great board. I can’t believe you made it yourself. I’ll bring it down to you now.”
“Keep it! Trent couldn’t believe he’d said that either. The board was his most prized possession.
Anita looked puzzled, “What?”
In a soft voice Trent said, “I’m really glad you like my board, I’m giving it to you!”
Anita stopped and studied Trent for some time. He looked so awkward and his accent was sometimes difficult to understand, but there was something about him that told her this young man was safe to know, not like the crowd she knew in Malibu she had to keep at arms-length. They were her friends but she had to use all her wiles to keep it that way.
She shook her head, “That’s so nice of you Trent but I could never take that board from you.” Then seeing disappointment on his face she said, “But I’d love to use it while I’m here in the country if you’d be kind enough to let me?”
Trent nodded hopefully, “Can I see you tomorrow then?”
“I’d love to see you tomorrow.” Anita turned and waved as she went up the stairs to her room.
Anita did not go to sleep immediately. She mulled over the chance meeting in the morning, the pleasure of riding a good board on the waves that day and a very pleasant evening. She too was surprised she’d shared her family situation with a total stranger but she’d had experience with unusual things happening to her in her lifetime before and this was just another that would pass on and become a memory filed. But she had to admit to herself her loneliness since the split in her family had evaporated for a brief time that day. It was all too much for her to digest, so switching off the light she willed herself into a deep sleep.
Next morning Trent stood outside the shop for some time willing Anita to come down. But she didn’t appear and Trent turned dejectedly to head for work. Little did he know Anita had been watching from behind the window shutters as he stood moving one foot to the other. She smiled as she watched. It was so unusual to see someone her age wait patiently for such a long time, a boy no less! She mulled that over, and then went to take her breakfast at the shop below before taking Trent’s board for a day on the waves. A feeling of pleasure accompanied her throughout the day, but she made sure she was sitting in the shop when Trent arrived in the evening. She now looked forward to that meeting.
Trent arrived trying to look nonchalant and unconcerned as if this was his usual time to visit the shop. He faked a look of surprise as he saw Anita sitting at a table. Anita could barely suppress a giggle as she knew he’d been outside that shop bright and early that very morning. He didn’t mention that, and neither did Anita. She was enjoying the game and feeling complemented he’d come back in spite of the test she put him through in the morning. She was beginning to feel drawn to this Australian surfer. She revisited his pedigree from their conversation of yesterday and matched it with hers. He was sensitive, educated and obviously had pride in his work. Maybe he was worth taking a second look at? I wonder what my Mother would think of him, or my Dad, she mused.
Finally it came bursting out of Trent. “I was hoping you’d be on the beach this morning as I wanted to see you ride the waves on my board.”
Anita could barely control herself from laughing. “Oh, is that so Trent? I’m on vacation so I guess I must have slept in. Jet lag you know. What time did you make it to the beach this morning?”
“Oh, I just took a look on my way to work and didn’t see you on the beach, thought you may have been checking out the airport looking for your own board during the day so knew you’d be around in the afternoon.”
“I’d forgotten my board, thanks for reminding me. I need to get on the phone and hassle them again.” Anita studied the menu watching Trent out of the corner of her eye. Then she made a decision.
“Have you ever thought of travelling abroad Trent?”
Trent looked up in surprise, stared at the beach and thought about it. “No, I guess I haven’t Anita. I’ve been kind of tied up with my work and beach recreation and now and then trying to decide if I should go back to University and finish my studies.
“We have Universities in the US. You need nurses in Australia!” Anita could suppress it no longer. She burst out laughing.
Trent looked puzzled, and then he got the connection. He too laughed a happy laugh.
“I just might look into finishing my University studies in the US.” He said.
“Perhaps you should consider a University in California?” Anita said with an impish grin.
“Then perhaps I’d better check out possibilities of nursing in Australia, do they recognize California Nursing Board qualifications here?”
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2013 All rights reserved”
NB. Ularu is that giant red rock on the flat desert plains of Central Australia. It is one of Australia’s tourist destinations.