BackWash

By CJ Adler All Rights Reserved ©

Romance

Crimson Red

“Party!” Tyler shouts as he throws his head back and takes another drink, flaying his hands back and forth like an insane person who has lost all common sense - so basically, like Caleb.

“Me!” Some girl flirting with Tyler takes the drink from his hands and takes a sip of the alcohol, the both of them wasted.

I lost Caleb, Stells and Duke a while ago among all the people scattered about on the beach front.

It’s a hot lush evening, yet inside I feel like ice. I feel cold.

I thought I could handle this, but now I know that I can’t. Being here just reminds me of two years back from now when I lost Matt at the exact same bonfire beach party.

The warm winds brushing off the waves of the ocean would usually soothe me on any other occasion, but today my spirit is at unease with my current circumstances.

I glance around hopelessly, my eyes scanning the area in search of Stells. I could really talk to her right now. She’s the most understanding from my friends.

The quiet shore I used to visit early mornings to surf is now swamped with people. It’s overwhelming. The music continues to blare around me - loud and thunderous.

People are broken up into cliques. There are the wasted people dancing on the beach front - Ty among them - and then there are the calmer few (Stells and Duke) sitting around the bonfire telling stories as well as playing ‘Truth, Dare and Command’. Some people, the laid back ones (Caleb), are playing a game of volleyball beneath the midnight stars. I can’t help but feel like an outcast. I’m not big on partying, never have been.

I miss Brent.

Splashing diverts my attention out to the dark sea. My attention is captured as my eyes land on the crowd where I’d usually be - the surfers.

I watch the breakers hit the sandy shore before the waves roll back out to sea. The motion transports me to two years back as I’m hit with a flashback of the past.

“Don’t be stupid Brent. Surfing at night is dangerous.” I say to him as my eyes hesitantly waver back and forth from his green eyes to the sea. “Are you drunk or something to even consider going into that deathtrap?” I ask him playfully, motioning to the dark ocean before us.

I’m not keen on surfing at night, especially when weather reports claim that a violent storm is just on the horizon. It’s apparently approaching rapidly.

Brent is a mere acquaintance of mine that has the hots for one of my friends, Stella.

“I’m not big on drinking, just partying.” He winks at me before asking, “Where’s your other half?”

“Who? Matt or Chase?” I ask him with a grin.

“Both.” Brent answers me with a small smile, his green gaze holding me in place.

I shrug, “You tell me. Knowing those two, they’re surfing anyway, despite all the news warnings.”

I love surfing, but this is not my scene.

Brent must see the concern in my eyes and so he tries to reassure me, “The sun has been shining all day and so far there hasn’t been evidence of the reports of a storm coming. Don’t worry so much. The weather reports aren’t always accurate.”

My instincts tell me otherwise. That storm is coming. The evening sea can only be calm for so long.

I run a frustrated hand through my brown curls. I don’t even want to be here. Chase, my best friend, manipulated me into coming through Matty, my brother.

Chase knew that if he could get Matty to surf with him tonight then I’d be a worry pot and have no other option but to come to this stupid bonfire beach party. It’s hosted every year during spring break.

It doesn’t help that my little brother practically idolizes Chase. Matty would follow Chase to hell and back. Chase has that influence over people. He’s cool and popular - people adore him. He’s virtually loved by everyone.

I pleaded with Matty not to come, but I never stood a chance. As soon as Chase invited him, there was no stopping him.

“Gabriela?”

I come out of the trance to see a familiar face before me. An overjoyed smile overtakes my features as I take him in. I lurch forward impulsively and embrace him with all my might.

Seeing him takes me back to my thoughts:

“The waves are going to be sick tonight! Akaw!” A boy shouts as he heads into the dark waters with his surfboard in toe. The water surrounding him immediately lights up a neon green.

Modern surfing boards have lights installed on the sides, specifically designed for night surfing. However, that’s not what astounds me, it’s the voice that I know all too well.

“Jacob!” I shout, running in after him, the cold water reaching past my calves.

He stops and turns around to see me wading through the water. He flashes me a bright smile, “Hey Sister. Why not up for a surf on this fine evening?”

I shake my head at him, suppressing a small smile. He knows I hate it when he calls me his sister. He’s an only child and he also happens to be Matty’s best mate. I guess he is like my second brother in some twisted way.

“There’s a storm coming genius. Jakie…” I use his nickname, “Have you seen my little weirdo around?” I ask him, referring to my brother Matty.

Jacob nods and points further into the waves - way out at sea, “Him and Chase were the first in. They’ve been at it for hours now. I think I saw Chase come out a little while ago.”

“And Matt?” I ask hastily, concerned and worried, but over all, furious. I never wanted Matt to come to this damn party in the first place. Chase persisted, thinking me to be downright delusional about the storm.

I only allowed Matt to come because he promised me that he wouldn’t surf tonight. He never breaks his promises to me. Chase said he’d keep Matt away from the waves. I knew I couldn’t count on them, hence me being here.

Jacob shakes his head, “Matty is still out catching some waves. You know how it is with him.”

“Yes I do. It’s exactly why we need him to get out of the water. He’s so addicted to the ocean. He won’t leave until someone literally drags him out. If there is a storm on the way, he’s not going to pass up the opportunity to ride some hectic waves.” I grit my teeth in frustration and anxiety. I should have never trusted Chase to look out for him.

Jacob sees this and nudges me playfully, “Hey Sis, cheer up. It’s a party!” He grins down at me, already taller than me despite him being two years younger. “You need to loosen up.” He advises.

He turns to enter the water, “Jacob don’t!” I warn, my paranoia getting the best of me.

Jacob turns around back to me with raised eyebrows as he awaits my reasoning.

His surfboard bobs up and down on the surface of the shallow waters, drifting along out to sea with the unusually strong current. “Look.” I point to his board.

“And?” He waits for an explanation seeing as I’m acting out of character. I’m usually cool, calm and collected.

“The current is never this strong. Something’s not right.” I try to persuade him out of surfing.

Something tragic is going to happen. I can sense it, feel it…

“Jacob Matthews.” I breathe out against him in relief. I still have him, I haven’t lost him.

Jacob chuckles from beneath my hold as he wraps his arms around me in a soothing manner, “You okay there? I don’t remember you being this compassionate.” He jokes, “You’re not drunk are you?”

I shake my head as I pull away from him, a smile still gracing my lips. I haven’t seen this guy in two years. He’s family. I use to consider him a second brother.

“Sorry.” I apologize with a sheepish look to my eyes, “I’m just happy to see you.”

Jacob was Matt’s best friend, and thus knew Matt the best from all of us. I can only imagine how he felt when Matt died. I think we can relate in the pain department since it was the two of us who pulled away from our friends in hopes of healing.

“Same here.” He comments, sharing a warm smile with me. “I didn’t think I’d see you here after…” He trails off upon realizing the offence behind his words. He shifts in his position uncomfortably, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly as he clears his throat, “Uh sorry. I never -“

I place my hand on his upper arm and nod at him, forcing out a smile, “You lost him too.” I say, empathetic, before nodding again with reassurance, “We lost him together.” I conclude in a tone of finality.

His brows crease as a frown makes its way onto his lips, a foreign look to his hazel eyes as a single tear falls from his eyes, “You were right Gabriela, you were right that night. You were right about the storm.” He croaks hoarsely, remembering back to the night where, coincidentally, my thoughts had just been lingering on.

“But I was wrong about the sharks.” I whisper, a futile attempt to get him to laugh.

“Jakie, it’s dangerous out there.” I warn, gesturing with my head unto the rough waves breaking in the distance. “Not only are the waves humongous tonight, you and Matt are still beginners - Barneys. One slip up and…” I stop myself short as another factor creeps into my head, “There’s been more shark attacks of recently. They’ve been coming into shore to breed because of the warm waters this season. It’s not safe.” I end exasperatedly, desperate for him to hear me out.

He doesn’t take me seriously, glancing at me for half a second before he cracks up laughing, “Okay, not to sound rude, but where is the cool nonchalant Gabs I know?”

My mouth falls open at the insult as my eyes widen. I try to reply, but he’s already left me standing alone as he heads further in to catch up with Matty and the other surfers out at sea.

My gaze locks onto the boy before me. He’s grown up so much in just two years. He’s now the age I was when Matt died. He’s in his final year in school and he’s gotten even more taller since I last saw him.

I let out a humorless giggle in an attempt to slice the thick tension, “You gotta stop growing Jakie. I feel so short in comparison.”

He offers me an easy going grin, “That’s because you are short Sis.” His eyes widen along with mine. He’d just called me ‘Sis’ like he always used to in the past.

I can see that he’s very unsure as he places his hands deep into his pockets and averts his eyes from mine, embarrassed.

I’m quick to respond in order to allow him to see that we need him back, that we all miss him so much, “Come home Jacob.” I breathe.

Jacob whips his head up at hearing my words, his eyes quickly finding mine again as a bashful smile appears on his lips, “And where would that be?” He asks softly, taken aback by my offer.

“With us.” I tell him, referring to all our old friends, the friends we’d left behind in the hopes of recovering.

To my surprise, Jacob nods, “We’ll see.” He grins down at me, not exactly giving me an answer, before he leaves.

I can guess what he means by that. I’m one hundred percent certain that l will be seeing him again real soon.

I look up to meet blue eyes. He’d obviously been watching me talk to Jacob. When he sees me staring back at him, he has the nerve to wink at me.

Typical Caleb. He hasn’t changed a bit.

“Gabb Gabbs!”

“Gabby my hottie!”

Two voices call out from behind me.

My eyes leave the figures out at sea and land on two new sets of figures.

I roll my eyes at the two of them when I see that they are both dressed in wetsuits as well, “Not you two too!” I snap a little venomously. I swear I’m the only sensible one left.

“Big waves, for sh*t we’re here.” Tyler, the flirty one, remarks. He’s suppose to be the sensible one between the two. He can read the ocean better than any of us. He knows there’s a storm coming, yet he will still take the risk to surf.

Caleb, the jokester, pulls me in for one of his famous noogies as if to greet me thereby. I squirm out of Caleb’s arms and slap him as they both laugh aloud at my expense.

“I’m surprised our girl Gabs ain’t joining us. Chase was right, you’re a buzzkill.” Caleb teases, filled with mischief as always.

I cross my arms over my chest and glower up at him through my lashes, but then I realize what he just said, “Chase?!” I question, “Where is he? Have you seen him?” I ask, frantic to know the answer.

“Please don’t tell me you two are at each others throats again.” Ty jokes, making light of a very serious situation. I narrow my eyes at him, not impressed. He holds his hands up in surrender, caving. “Chase is, pun intended in reference to my previous statement, at another girl’s throat at the moment.” He concludes as he waggles his eyebrows playfully as if to help me catch his inappropriate hint.

Caleb, the more nicer of the two, speaks up, “Gabb Gabbs, come on. Let go. You can’t pull that with us. We’re the same age as you. You might be able to control Jacob, Matt and occasionally Chase, but you should know better than to try and control us.” Caleb smirks proudly, not understanding my fear behind it all. I just don’t want anyone I care about to get hurt.

“So there’s no talking you out of surfing tonight?” I ask, desperate, already aware of their answer. The lifeguards, earlier on, had already banned the surfers from the water. However, all the warnings are still not enough to stop my idiotic friends.

“Not a chance!” Caleb replies enthusiastically, “Too stoked to back down.” He tells me, drawing me to his chest for a brief goodbye before they both head into the dark waters.

The least those two twits could’ve done is tell me where Chase is.

I begin searching the crowds for Chase, but it turns out more difficult than expected.

You’d think a popular guy like Chase would be easy to find…

Ty, having spotted me, staggers toward me. I notice that his arm is wrapped around a girl I’ve never seen before.

“There you are Gabs!” He breathes out in relief, the smell of alcohol radiating off of him in strong fumes as he lurches himself into my arms. “Why are you spinning so much?” He asks when I push him back.

I roll my eyes at Ty, “You’re drunk.” I explain. Tyler always ends up wasted at parties. It’s his thing. He’s a lightweight and can’t hold his liquor to save his life. “Who’s the girl?” I ask him, motioning to the girl clinging to his side.

Ty glances down at the wrong side, “What girl?” He asks before looking down at his other side, “Oh, that girl.”

The girl, also drunk, giggles at him like he’s the funniest thing that hit this planet. She’s got it wrong. That’s Caleb.

“This is Lola.” Ty finally answers my question.

“Lianna.” The girl corrects him with a frown evading her features.

“Yeah whatever.” He brushes it off as if her existence means nothing to him.

I shake my head at him, a little disappointed.

Ty’s a player, always has been. However, I was hoping this side to him didn’t exist anymore. At least he’s not as bad as Chase used to be. Chase was the worst when it came down to the opposite gender.

“Be quiet.” I hear the low murmur of his voice as I round an isolated corner.

A flash of lightning in the distance spreads across the black sky.

I have to hurry.

“Chase!” I shout as I catch him in a steamy make out session against the wall of the surf shack we work at. I close my eyes in disgust when I see their compromising position and turn away. “Tell me when it’s safe to look.”

I remove my hands from my eyes and look when I hear Chase grumble a ton of curse words beneath his breath.

Chase and the girl reluctantly break apart. The girl is quick to hurry away, meanwhile Chase turns to me with a scowl, “What the hell Gabriela?” He complains, annoyed at my impeccable timing.

“No!” I argue, “What the hell Chase.” I correct him as the clouds above rumble loudly before they give way to strong pelts of rain.

Our usual bickering seems to break him out of his zone. His blue eyes flare up in anger, “What are you even doing here? You made it clear you weren’t coming.” He says to me as people begin packing up and running to their cars for shelter, the bonfire dead and Chase and I already soaked wet to the bone.

I take a step forward, annoyed with him, “And you made it clear that you’d keep Matt out of the water. Looks like we both lied.” I hiss, concerned about my brother.

Chase and I are best friends, but like all friends, we do quarrel. We fight often, only to always somehow end up back together.

“Gabriela-“

I put my hand up, stopping myself from hearing his sad excuses, “Save it Chase. If you want to make it up to me, get Matt out the water before the storm hits.” I suggest to him, turning to leave.

He suddenly reaches out and takes hold of my wrist, gently turning me to face him.

“Gabby, what you saw back there with that girl was nothing.” He whispers ever so softly.

That was out of the blue.

I cross my arms over my chest and raise an eyebrow, “And so?”

Why would I care?

A pink blush coats his neck at my question. His blue irises turn to a darker hue as his hair flattens messily against his forehead under the rain, droplets slowly edging their way down his face as if in a soft caress. “Gabby, there’s something I need to tell you.”

I furrow my eyebrows in bewilderment, truly puzzled, “So say it Fuller.” I demand, wanting to hear it so we can go get Matt already.

“I think I…” He trails off, faltering slightly as if losing the courage to get it out. Another rumble of thunder cuts him off from finishing as the heavens above us open up with more rain to shower us.

I have never seen Chase so nervous and speechless before.

“What is it Chase?” I coax gently, encouraging him to go on, letting him know that he has my full attention. Whatever he has to say, it’s obviously important.

He sucks in a deep breath as he struggles to keep eye contact with me, “I’ll just say it and finally get it off my chest.” He mutters aloud more to himself than me.

Finally, he summons the determination and faces me, his blue eyes alight and sparkling beneath the stars. A rain drop falls off the tips of his long lashes when he blinks. Subconsciously, I follow the movement of the drop with my eyes. It runs down his cheek and stops at his lips, leaving my eyes to linger.

I’m quick to fixate my eyes back to his before he gets the wrong impression.

“Gabby…” He breathes cautiously, taking me off guard when he interlocks our fingers, willing me closer against him, “I lo -“

“Gabriela!” A voice screams out to me in raw desperation.

My heart jolts in realization when I see the devastated expressions on their faces.

I recollect my memories when Ty’s voice brings me back from the past, “What’s the matter Gabs? You look upset.” He asks, noticing my change of mood even from his drunken state.

I shake my head and feign a smile, “Nothing. I’m good.” I reassure him, lying to his face, “Just need to clear my head.” I tell him, “I’ll come find you later.” I say to him as I stroll down the beach side all on my own in the darkness.

Another flashbacks hits home as I get lost in the past to the point where I feel like I’m drowning and can’t come up for a breath.

I force myself out of Chase’s iron grip and turn to face Tyler, “What’s going on?” I ask, already sprinting down to the shore beside him and leaving Chase behind.

It’s Matt. I can feel it in my blood.

“Matt was out too far.” Ty breathes rapidly, clearly anxious about something. “Caleb and I tried to pull him back in, but the current got stronger with the storm hit and we couldn’t swim against it. He…” Ty trails off to catch his breath.

“He what?!” I shout at Ty in pure desperation, needing to hear the end of it.

“He got stuck in a riptide. He can’t make it back to shore. The waves and currents are too powerful. It’s chaos out there. Caleb, Jacob, the others and I barely got out. We only realized Matt was still out in the open waters when we got to shore.” Ty breathes out, panicked, as he runs a hand through his wet hair.

I glance Ty’s way, “Give me your board.” I demand with a tone one can’t refuse.

“What?! No way Gabriela! It’s too dangerous for you to go out there. You don’t even have a wetsuit on.” Ty replies back, concerned for my well being, but not as concerned as I am for my brother’s well being. “You will be dragged under with the clothes you’re wearing.”

The worst part of this is that there is no immediate help. All lifeguards left about three hours ago.

“Then give me your wetsuit.” I command him in a tone of finality, determined to get out there and get Matt.

I’m not the best swimmer, but hell I’m a damn good surfer. If I get a board then I can take on a storm, “No!” Ty shouts, refusing me. “I won’t let you go out there.”

Just over an hour ago, I didn’t want him and Caleb going in. The roles have reversed.

“He’s right.” Chase says as he reaches us, turning his worried gaze to me, “You can’t go out there Gabby. I’ll go.” He offers.

Seeing his face only infuriates me. He did this. This is his fault! If it weren’t for him, Matt wouldn’t even be here to start with.

Matt is my responsibility, not Chase’s.

Suddenly, there’s a earsplitting crash from afar.

People begin to gasp and scream in terror.

My eyes turn to the rowdy sea and to the last surfer left in its path of destruction - Matt. My heart stops at the sight. I feel as if I can’t get any oxygen into my lungs when Matty hits the rocks with a tumultuous thud. He goes under after that, disappearing out of my line of vision entirely. His surfboard flips back up, now in pieces - the last remains of evidence that Matty had been in the water.

The riptide has pushed him back into the rocks.

Acting without thought - impulsively - I grab unsuspecting Caleb’s surfboard and dash straight into the dark waters with a terrified spirit intact.

Matty is all I can think about and there’s nothing and no one that can stop me from going after him.

“Gabriela!” I hear voices call after me in warning.

I heed their warnings, paddling myself further into the wreck - the very core of the thunderous storm.

The waves are incredibly enormous and powerful, pushing me back in my strife. Thankfully, the current pulls me straight back in.

I arch my body forward and move with the board as I go under each wave in order to save myself time and effort, as well as to prevent myself from tumbling off the board.

If I fall into the water, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to break surface again. I could drown.

Waves break over me as it continues to thunder and rain above, the waters ruthless and murky. I paddle as best I can to the place I last saw Matt before he went under. It isn’t easy. The waters are black and my only source of light is the colorful neon flashes installed into Caleb’s surfboard. If my problems aren’t terrifying enough, my clothes are heavy, tugging me under. I have to keep moving as to avoid getting tossed under even more. “Matt!” I shout into the vast ocean, hoping by some miracle that he’d hear me and call back out to me.

I get forced under a couple times as I swim against the forceful current, “Matt!” I scream again, physically exhausted. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep fighting the water. Even if I do manage to save Matt, I don’t know how I’ll get us both safely back to shore.

When pieces of his surfboard float past me, I realize I’m close.

I glance from my surfboard into the black waters hesitantly, wondering what could be lurking beneath me. I’ll never get Matt unless I leave my board.

If I leave my board, I might not be able to get back on it again. However, it’s a risk I have to take.

With that single thought in mind, I unlatch the surfboard rope from my ankle before I take off diving into the black ocean. I force my eyes open despite the salt water, leaving my surfboard to drift deeper into sea along with the fierce riptide.

I swim down deep until I see his red wet suit. Thank goodness for his vibrant colored choice.

I grab hold of his arm and swim up, pulling him up to the surface with much strain, using the last bit of strength left in me.

He’s unconscious.

His head is bleeding profusely. I have to keep my legs moving to keep him up. The continuous motion drains me physically. I won’t last much longer. I have to get us back.

It’s now or never.

My options are very limited. I spot my board a few miles up in the distance, but to get there I’d have to tackle extreme waves whilst holding another person up out of the water.

I swim out a little, hoping to get away from the dangers of the rocks before the next wave breaks and forces the both of us into the sharp kill zone with it’s powerful backwash.

My heart quickens as panic sets in. I can’t do this alone. If we’re to be dunked again, I won’t be able to push us both back up to surface.

My arms and legs give into the exhaustion just as we’re yanked under by the riptide itself.

The wind rolling off the ocean whips my hair about. I sigh, far from content, as I push my hair back over my shoulder to clear my blurred vision.

It’s then I see him across the shore, his blue eyes glowing in defeat.

I halt mid-step as my gaze locks onto him solely, his own eyes unwavering as he takes in my presence from his place on the exact rocks where Matt died.

The sea is calm tonight. It would be a peaceful night if it wasn’t in the fact that the sea took my brother away from me - out of my reach forever.

Chase drops his head back down as if he’s reading something, choosing not to acknowledge me.

When I lost Matt, I had his favorite surfboard cemented down between the sharp rocks as a reminder of Matt, as a small memorial ground for him. The date of his death is engraved into the surfboard along with his catch phrase: ‘Riding the wave, until the grave’. It must be what Chase is reading.

It’s not often I come here. Being here doesn’t make me feel any closer to Matt, it just makes me relive memories I’d rather forget.

Yet still, I take a seat beside Chase on the rocks, both of us saying nothing and both of us dwelling on our own tragic pasts.

I was sure we were going to die. I didn’t have the strength to pull myself and my brother up out of the water. Before I know it, we’re drowning and there’s nothing I can do.

I’m dying. We’re dying.

Just when I lose all hope - just as my eyes are about to close on their own accord - a hand reaches down into the water.

I remember thinking it to be a miracle. In a sense, it was.

I kick upward one last time, reaching out toward the hand and grabbing it with all my might. Just like that, a strong arm pulls me and Matt effortlessly out of the water and onto a white surfboard - Chase’s board.

I throw my head back as I try to catch my breath, leaning all my weight on Chase as he somehow manages to paddle us all the way back to shore.

Chase saved my life that night and I never even thanked him for it. I only blamed him. The thought haunts me day and night. I understand why Chase hates me, I really do. I just wish that one day he’ll come to forgive me. That’s all I want from him - forgiveness.

I feel someone remove something from my arms. My eyes snap open when I realize they took Matty.

“Matt!” I shout as Chase lowers me onto the seashore. “Matty!” I scream in horror as tears cloud my eyes. I just want him here in my arms, that’s all.

The crowds move away, no longer blocking my sight.

My eyes land on him. His blood stains the white shore to a crimson red. He’s not moving, yet his eyes are open.

“Oh god! Matt!” I shout again as I fall helplessly to my knees beside him.

I feel for a pulse.

Nothing

I place my hand over the massive cut across the back of his head and try to stop the bleeding. My hands instantly turn red as I hover above his lifeless body in a puddle of blood.

“Matt! It’s me!” I shake him slightly, trying to get a response from him, desperate for him to come back to me. I try CPR for a good couple minutes when I realize no one is helping, no one is even trying to put an end to the bleeding. “Somebody help!” I yell, pleading with the public for their help.

No response from anyone whatsoever, not even a response from my friends.

Terrified, I call out again, “Help! He needs help! Somebody get help!” I shout, but no one listens.

It’s then that I see it. I see the secret behind all their blank expressions…death.

They’re all convinced that it’s too late, that Matt’s already gone.

“He’s not leaving me!” I shout, annoyed and frustrated that no one else holds hope like I do. “He’s not!” I cry as I keep my hands over the large wound on his head.

A muscular arm wraps around my waist and tugs me back from Matt’s body, “No!” I shout, fighting against the person in order to be at my brother’s side once again.

“Do you think you’ll ever surf again?” Chase’s tender voice brings me back to the present.

I glance up at him, perplexed that he’s even talking to me.

I don’t answer right away. Instead, I hesitantly look out to sea at the inky black mass of water before us. The sea frightens me - petrifies me. When I look at the ocean, I don’t see its beauty and wonder, I see death.

“Gabby…he’s gone.” Chase whispers into my ear as he holds me back against his chest. “There’s nothing more we can do for him.”

His words hold truth and deep down I know that he’s right, but I refuse to accept it.

I lash out at him out of pure fury and despair as I enter a dark and hopeless place. I turn around in his arms to face him and slap him directly through the face with the last ounce of my strength.

His head whips to the side as a result of the impact, a bruise already forming on his face where a hand mark is now imprinted. He rubs his cheek as he tries to calm me down, “Gabby I’m sorry. I’m so sorry-“

I cut him off.

“I wish it were you!” I hiss at him bitterly, remembering that this is all his fault. I hold my hands - tainted scarlet in Matt’s blood - up in front of his eyes, “This blood should have been yours.” I whisper to him through gritted teeth - through pure conviction - before wiping all the blood off my hands and onto his shirt.

That night was the last time I spoke to Chase Fuller and the last time I ever set foot back in the water - the last time I ever surfed.

“Gabriela?” Chase calls my name, pulling me out of it, out of the pain. “Your answer?” He reminds me.

I turn my gaze back to the ruthless sea and shake my head, “No.” I answer him quietly, “No, I will never surf again.”

I don’t wait for his response.

In the end, I do what I do best and leave.

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