Because There’s Nothing Better To Do by Olivia Alcabes

The waves were cold today. She couldn’t remember a day they were colder, except for maybe that Monday, in early March, when she’d tried to go out in the middle of a storm, waves crashing, board rising and speeding along a personal highway.

The clouds were large and dark and grey, but she didn’t mind much. It was a day where not many people would be out – most would spend it on their own, indoors, drinking warm coffee because it’s cold enough that they don’t have to ice it. For the first time in a long time, she was alone.

And she knew it wasn’t smart, to be out there without a helper. She hadn’t realized it had started raining until she was up on her first wave, noticing that the water reaching and combing its way through her hair was not coming from beneath her. She knew that if lightning struck, it could all be over. But she wasn’t afraid. She didn’t think she would mind anything being over.

A huge wave came and knocked her underwater. For a second she couldn’t see and her lungs sucked in salt and she didn’t know up or down. She’d experienced this before — back when she was first learning, when she was a child. Moments like this had terrified her for weeks, awakening her in the middle of the night, bolt-up in bed, sweating, and not just from the heat. But this time was different. For a second, under the water, it was like she was dead and like she hadn’t existed in the first place, and for the first time in a while she felt some sort of semblance of peace.

Her head popped out of the water. She gasped for breath – not because she wanted to, but because her body forced her to – and clung to the surfboard – not because she couldn’t swim, but because she wasn’t strong enough to.

As the water cleared out of her eyes and stuck to her eyelashes, making them cling together like locks of hair, she brought the board on top of her and kicked her feet to the surface so that she was floating on her back. Salt got in her eyes but she did not clear it out. She stared up at the stormy sky, grey and all the same, all the same everywhere in every direction, and it screamed and it groaned and it was peaceful.