1st Place 10-13
Pulled Away from the Sand
By Erin Riesen
Ella grabbed her surf board as she dashed out the house to the beach. The air was warm and inviting. The sounds of the waves sent excitement over her; she could feel its high energy surging throughout her body. She was doing what she loved.
“Come on, Grandpa, the water’s great,” Ella called as she skipped across the tide’s edge and started paddling to the waves.
Grandpa chuckled as he started relaxing on the beach, “You go on ahead; I’m getting to old to keep up.”
Ella halted abruptly in her paddling, “Oh, Grandpa, pleeeeeease, this might be my last time to surf before summer break ends.”
“No, Ella, I’d rather stay on the sand today; you go and catch some waves.”
Sighing, Ella reluctantly gave up, “Ok, Grandpa. We’ll surf together later.”
Smiling to himself, Grandpa set up the makeshift umbrella and picnic supper on the sand, while watching the silhouette of Ella playing in the waves underneath the late purple and burnt blue summer sunset.
* * *
Ella slouched in her seat during math quiz, watching the tick-tick of the second hand slowly rolling by on the cherry-red clock that stood in the front of the class room. Five more minutes and she would be free.
“Hey, Ella, wait up,” Kirsten huffed, coming up from behind her on the way home from school, “I haven’t seen you all summer, where were you?”
Ella adjusted the backpack on her shoulder. “I was spending the summer at my grandpa’s place. The waves have been great.”
“Oh, I missed you.”
Ella quickened her steps. “Sorry, but I can’t help it. I love being there.”
Kirsten crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “You spend too much time there.”
* * *
Ella rushed into their apartment. Her mother looked up at her, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” Ella questioned as she walked towards her.
“Oh, Ella, pack your things. I’ve arranged for two tickets back to your grandfather’s.”
“I thought we weren’t going back until Christmas.”
“No… Ella, your grandpa… has passed away,” her mother’s voice crackled, “We are going there to arrange a funeral and to sort out his affairs. We need to pack up his house.”
* * *
Ella stared out the window of the rented car as all the familiar places she had been with her grandpa whizzed by. She looked ahead and saw the cone-shaped roof of the ice-cream shop that Grandpa had taken her to. She would get the rocky-road while he would get his favourite two-scope chunky chocolaty fudge ice-cream, which he would always say was way too much for him and could she please finish it.
When they arrived at Grandpa’s old place, Ella was the first person to rush in. She took a deep breath and smiled- old spice cologne and pine sol. His old board was propped up by the front entryway. It hadn’t been used for awhile and had a coating of dust on it. Her fingers gingerly touched it. Memories of them on their surfboards came crashing down on her. She had learned how to surf with him.
Grabbing his board, she ran out the back door to the beach. She stood in her favourite spot- the spot where she had first held her surfboard and looked out at the waves as her Grandpa explained what to do. She remembered how the wind had blown her hair around and how the seaweed had lapped up on the shore around her feet. The mixture of scents from the beach seemed to combine like perfume. The gulls soared around, dipping and playing in the ocean. It was where she had experienced the joy of surfing. Her grandpa had been on the beach, getting ready to paddle out into the waves and giving last minute instructions. In her mind, she pictured his soft eyes and wild white hair, his missing teeth and contagious laughter.
Ella took off her shoes and kicked at the sand. The wet sand oozed around her toes. She looked out into the ocean as a wave formed, Grandpa would have said that that was a wave worth catching. She grinned and whispered, “Goodbye, Grandpa, be free and catch some waves for me.” She waved her arms up to the sky as the sun set for the day.