Story time again. I’m participating in the writing meme hosted by The Red Dress Club. This week we picked four numbers between 1 and 10. Each number corresponded to a character, setting, time, and situation that we had to use to create our story. See if you can guess mine. (Ooh, it’s like a party game!) As usual, comments and constructive criticism are much appreciated. Meanness is not.
“Ninetieth percentile,” Greg said. “Can you believe it? I can’t believe how big he’s gotten already.”
“I can’t stand it,” Sharon said, “pull over.”
“What?” asked Greg.
Sharon raised her voice, “Pull over! I can’t stand the crying!”
Greg turned the car down the nearest street. “Do you think he’s hungry? Or do you think it’s the shots he got. I couldn’t believe how big those needles were. You’d think they’d use smaller needles on a baby. Are you going to try feeding him again? I’ll pull into the parking lot. There shouldn’t be many people this time of year.”
He turned into one of the parking lots dotting the beaches in Santa Monica. A few cars were scattered in the lot. A surfer peeled off his wetsuit behind the tailgate of his truck. Sharon noticed the large sunburst tattoo covering his right shoulder and wrapping down his back. She watched him undress as their car passed.
When the car stopped Sharon got out and closed the door. The tranquil sound of crashing waves replaced the screaming of her baby. The wind whipping off the ocean made her catch her breath. She pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up. It was early April, but the chill of winter hung around the beach.
Sharon closed her eyes, and inhaled deeply. She began walking toward the ocean, following the salty scent of the water. She heard a car door slam.
“Sharon!” Greg shouted. “Sharon! Where are you going? The baby’s crying. He’s hungry. Sharon? Do you want me to bring him to you? Don’t you think it’s too cold for him here?”
Sharon walked across the bike path and into the cool sand. Her ankles buckled a little on the shifting surface. She walked, stumbling frequently, to the water’s edge. The soft roar of the ocean filled her head. A few surfers bobbed in the lineup.
She slipped off her shoes and dug her toes into the firm, wet sand.
It had been weeks since she had been out of the house and months since she had been in the water. Surfing while pregnant just wasn’t done. She had thought after the baby was born there would be time for surfing again. Instead she found that although her body was hers once again, all her time belonged to him. She spent the last eight weeks in a never ending cycle of breastfeeding, changing poop filled diapers, and praying the baby would sleep three hours in a row.
The water came up and licked her feet. She jumped back, shocked by the cold. This was full wetsuit weather.
The sound of a child drew her attention down the beach. A family of three stood on the shore; tourists who thought southern California would be warm. The parents looked cold in their shorts and tank tops, vigorously rubbing their arms. The little girl seemed not to notice the temperature, chasing the surf and the seagulls in only a yellow swimsuit. She squealed excitedly when a wave caught her.
Sharon smiled. She slipped off her black sweatpants and pulled her sweatshirt over her head. She stood for a moment with her hands on her hips, like a superhero in her full coverage panties and nursing bra, before running into the surf.
She rose up on her tiptoes as the icy water hit her flabby belly. Deterred only momentarily, she dove through the surf. Past the break line, she laid back, ears in the water, arms and legs spread like a starfish. She closed her eyes and let her body drift in the familiar rhythm of the waves.