Riptide - By Lindsey Scheibe


Surfing is for life.

—Bruce Jenkins, North Shore Chronicles

I stretch out my legs, enjoying the hot sand against my calves. Early morning sun creates an orange sheen on the ocean as I search for a big set of waves. The endless white formations roll in; lines of blurred corduroy become distinct opportunities—or not—as they roll closer to the local surf break. A few surfers are already out there, dotting the horizon and catching waves. Alluring, sexy waves. The kind that promise to wash away anything but the moment you’re riding them.

I look over my shoulder to see Ford walking toward me, his board under his arm. He’s late. But no point in being frustrated. Ford is Ford. I put up with it because he’s one of the major reasons I’m sane. Well, him and surfing. I flex my toes and bend them down, digging them into the sand. Ford’s been my best friend since the summer before sophomore year—he was a newbie from Huntington, wearing surfer clothes and looking the part. I was obsessed with surfing that entire summer. After a couple of arguments about which surfers on the junior tour had the best sessions on YouTube videos, we agreed to disagree until one of us kicked enough ass to compete.

Ford lays his board down and sits next to me. “There’s a set coming in and you’re catching rays? C’mon on now, Grace.”

“At least I show up early to pay homage to the waves. Where’s your dedication, Mr. Surf God?”

“I’m dedicated to my friends and the waves. It’s Esmerelda’s fault I’m late.”

Ford could drive almost any truck in existence, as tricked-out as it gets. But he prefers Esmerelda, a wonderful old beater he can work on. He probably had to coax her to life this morning. Lately, she’s had a funny knocking sound.

I try not to check him out too obviously. His dark legs and lean body have changed for the better since last summer. I can’t help crushing on him, but we’re BFs and that’s off-limits. Besides, every ounce of energy I have this summer is going toward figuring out how to get a surf scholarship to UCSD.

He kicks off his Reefs and I add, “Nice board shorts. You have excellent taste.”

“Yeah, since you picked them out, Gidget.” His eyebrows rise and his left dimple shows. There’s a playful challenge in his grin, one I can’t ignore.

“Oh yeah? Gidget?” When people hear that name, regular folks might not know what it means. Older folks might think about the old movies, TV series, or books. But when surfers hear “Gidget,” they usually think about a woman who still gets listed as one of the top surfer girls ever. They also think “pint-sized.”

Standing up to my full n="height, I come eye-to-chest with Ford. I give him my best intimidating stare. Fighting a smile probably isn’t helping the stare-down thing.

Ford throws his head back and laughs. I step toward him, hands on my hips. In one quick swoop, he bends down and slings me over his shoulder. I hang onto his torso, trying to lessen the jostle, as he runs toward the water.

Flailing and slapping his back, I protest. “Ford Watson, put me down.”

“Ford Watson,” he mocks, simultaneously laughing and wading into knee-deep water before tossing me in. I squeal in protest at the cold. My butt hits the hard sand before I spring up, ready to get even, but by the time I wipe salty water from my eyes Ford is on the beach waxing his board—a ten-foot Stewart Regal, single fin. The seductiveness of his surfboard is ridiculous, a new take on a retro design. Tribal spears hug the outsides of the board, which is a blue that blends in with the ocean, making him a god commanding the waves.

Charging out of the water, I make a beeline for him.

He waves me off. “Aww. Be a good sport. Go wax your board.”

“Fine, but only ’cause a solid set is coming in.”

Since it’s the summer before senior year, this is the year—my last chance to get noticed by college surf coaches. If I want to have a snowball’s chance in the Bahamas of making it happen, then I gotta tweak my skills and make a local presence. That’s what it takes to get noticed.

My board is an old yellow beak-nosed from the 70s. It’s a six-foot ten-inch Bing model with faded red lettering. Dings show off the vintage factor, if the shape of the nose weren’t telltale enough. Thin red lines outline the