Surfing in St Ives by Gillian Bowman

Gillian Bowman went on a surf trip to St Ives with the Glasgow Uni Surf Club and thought the experience was so amazing it made her want to surf forever. It inspired her to write this short story.


Sun swept room. Shells and net, crabs on pine plaques hang neat on pale blue walls. Whales and sole fish swim through glass panes, sand dunes sown through bed sheets. See blue life in oil paint, sea breaks white foam in the bay.
See old streets and soaked land which dreams to be sea and the white homes tiled like show seats wet from the crash when a wave breaks on their sandy yards. Eye can not fit all the cliffs in their sight so do not stop keep on to the small hills and the dark spots as they drift to the lone church which rests. Now come down to the beach and the sand and the waves and the life-guards who watch the breaks and the men in black suits with the souls of seals who know how to ride the mouths of beasts.
Take your board Tiki: she is your tail. Her body is as small as a child and her tip is thin but she has a flick, like the curl of a sly mouth. She carves. The waves are clean, the swell is good. Now take her through St Ives to the sea.
Pubs with goth doors. Fried eggs in buns and real ice-cream. Boards stacked on racks, bare and great, bright and sweet: long, short, fish and gun. The roads flow like streams, move for chips in bags, shorts and flowers. You do not know here but you are here. Here is part of you and your board. Stones turn to sand and the busy mob are left to weave and soak in the salt breeze.
Run down the beach to the sea wide and through the wind which blows your hair and feel the nerves start to fall in your gut like flakes of snow on a cold day. The breaks are close. Their noise is a roar of God. Earth is for us: we reap it and make it ours but we can’t touch that place. The sea reaps us. Eyes watch you.
The sand holds you but your feet pick up the pace. The roarrrrrrrrr SLAMS and then the soft swish of calm builds, builds, builds, and the roarrrrrrrrrr SLAMS and swish of calm licks your feet. The leash needs to keep you to your board. Fits snug and tight. Walk to the sea, to the SLAMS and the roarrrrrr SLAMS- they seem too quick, too fast, too hard, too big, too great, too harsh.
Cold. Down your back, through your suit. Skin kisses the cold. Once on the board you cling to her. Roll on the lurch of black water. The world sways and even though you are still close to shore, you could be out at sea with no help, no friend to save you. The seals wait for you. The waves are calm and you break through them but soon they are too great to body bounce and you have to dive. It has come, it will break on your head, throw you and toss you and play with you. Drown you.
The roar comes. Use arms. Hold back the ocean. ROARRRRRRRRR PUSH! Ssssssssssssssssssss ears fill with water. The world turns to blue sick, rolls over you, angry and blind. It tries to break you. Gone. See the sun shine dim above. Seek it, break the face roarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. The noise is small now. Birds tip-toe over dark rocks. You perch on your board.
The swell rears through the sky. It yawns and drags your board towards its wide mouth and the board glides on its tongue. The edges break and spray foams. Strain your arms and legs, spring to the sky. Bird of flight spread your wings. Soar above St Ives.