Chapter One: First Break
Cosima trudges through the sand, stumbling across the dark beach still half asleep – it’s only 5am and she’s pretty certain that’s not a real time anyways. She drags her surfboard with one hand, the other full of her giant coffee cup and a joint cleverly tucked into the cardboard sleeve.
Reaching the vacant lifeguard tower she flops into the sand with the grace of a newborn donkey – which is to say none at all. Not many students would be caught dead waking up at such an hour unless it’s to get to the lab and check on thesis projects, but Cosima is dedicated to her morning surf sessions.
Being a grad student means long days of classes, labs and readings. It means going to school and getting so caught up in work and research that she forgets to eat until Scott shows up with donuts and she gets jolted out of her trance by the growl of her stomach. So getting up at the ass-crack of dawn ensures that she gets at least a couple hours of peace and quiet on the waves – not to mention a wicked workout.
The morning surf crowd is a handful of familiar faces, San Fran may be big, but the amount of people willing to get up before work to go to the beach is barely enough to string together two teams for beach soccer on the days when the Pacific refuses to produce big swells.
And that’s why Cosima notices her. As she reclines against the leg of the tower steadily smoking her joint and chasing each drag with a gulp of coffee – her mom would be appalled at her breakfast choices – she spots the girl’s hair before anything else.
Fluffy gold curls bounce as the woman strolls casually along the beach smoking a cigarette and sipping from a coffee cup, clearly making choices as healthy as Cosima’s. She gazes at the girl for far too long to be socially acceptable, but hey, it’s barely light out so no one can judge her creepiness.
Maybe it’s the breakfast of champions thinking, but Cosima is awestruck; her gaze greedily rakes in the long legs and slender figure wrapped up in a sweater, following the woman’s hands as they pull those gorgeous curls back into a neat bun. The scientist in her takes over, this woman is far too pale to be a native San Franciscan; she has to be new to the area, new to the sun even! Cosima wonders what her story is. She hasn’t even spoken to her but she wants to know why this gorgeous woman is here at 5am, where she came from, what her voice sounds like, what colour her eyes are…
Putting out the rest of her joint and chugging the last dregs of now cold coffee Cosima stands and begins to pull off her favourite red coat and tug up her wetsuit.
As the sun breaks the horizon and the beach is bathed in warm rays of light Cosima looks around and sees the regulars making their way down to the water; there’s Sarah and Cal teaching their daughter to surf now that she’s big enough – Cosima can remember when Kira just sat on the beach and watched with her uncle Felix and Grandma S. Mrs S’s dog Carlton races along the beach barking at waves, the goofy chocolate lab even hops onto the occasional surf board in the shallows.
Art and Helena are friends of Sarah and Felix’s, neither can surf to save their lives, but they come every day without fail to spend time with the surfers. Art usually brings donuts, but by the time everyone is out of the water, Helena has eaten most, if not all of them
Over to the other side of the beach are Alison and Beth, totally inseparable best friends forever, Cos knows they meet in the mornings before going to busy jobs and insufferable husbands.
The break isn’t huge, but Rachel finds a way to be as far as possible from the rest of the surfers while her dad? Boyfriend? Butler? Leekie watches from the shore. Cosima has seen him wandering campus and suspects he’s a professor or something. Strange those two are, the rest of the gang keeps their distance.
Now their little club has a new member and Cos can see everyone casting shy glances towards this new girl as they pass by. Nodding her greetings Cosima grabs her board and joins the herd, making sure she stays on the side closest to blondie.
She watches as the girl fumbles with her wetsuit, and then drops her board not once or twice, but four times before she reaches the water’s edge. Eyebrows furrowing, Cosima takes in the scene, clearly this chick is not a surfer.
As everyone wades through the shallows and starts to paddle towards the break – it’s looking like a good day for waves – Cosima angles diagonally towards the woman who has lost all her grace upon mounting her board. Not wanting to look like a keener lifeguard, but still concerned for her safety, Cosima keeps a respectable distance while keeping an eye on the newbie as they both paddle out.
Waiting for the next set all of the surfers are floating about, catching up on gossip. Cosima decides to bite the bullet and sidles up beside goldilocks. “Hey! You’re new. And I’m Cosima!”
Huge doe eyes look back at her as the girl accepts Cosima’s handshake. She finally gives in and flashes a huge smile, “Delphine, enchantee.”
Cosima grins at the girl’s adorable (sexy?) accent. “Never surfed before?”
Delphine looks embarrassed as she nods, “Is it that easy to tell?”
Cosima laughs and replies “No, lucky guess, I’ve defs seen pros trembling like leaves on their boards before.”
Delphine gasps and mocks offence as she splashes water at the dread-locked girl, “You cheeky brat! But oui, this is only my second time on a surfboard; I took a lesson and now I’m … teaching myself.”
Flashing her signature shit-eating grin, Cosima replies “Well since you’re new you may not have heard yet, but I’m kind of an awesome surfer. Totes qualified to give you some pointers, you know if you uh, like needed them or whatever.” She can’t help the awkward hand gesturing while she rambles, talking even faster than usual thanks to caffeine and nerves.
Delphine looks at the grinning girl beside her and smiles, “I would love that! It’s nice to make a friend in this brave new world! I just moved from Montreal.”
Cosima opens her mouth to ask the mysterious French girls more questions, but a wave catches her off guard and knocks her into the chilly water; spluttering she clambers back onto her board and hears Delphine laughing – she decides it was totally worth it to hear that sound.
They watch a few of the others catch waves, Cosima commenting on everyone’s style; there’s Sarah’s aggressive and reckless surfing, Alison’s cautious but meticulous method and Rachel’s clinical and precise moves down the far end of the break. Finally Cosima looks over at Delphine, who is nervously biting her lip, “You think you’re ready Miss I’m-gonna-teach-myself-to-surf?” she gestures to the next set that is rolling in.
Delphine looks like she’s more ready to hurl, but she nods and paddles into position. The next wave looks like a good one – well a good one for any experienced surfer, but Cosima recognizes that the speed is going to be too much for Delphine. Before she can call out Delphine is paddling with the wave and manages to get on her feet. Cosima thinks she may have underestimated the taller girl – then suddenly she loses her balance and is knocked into the foaming water.
Cosima frantically paddles over to a sopping wet Delphine who is either laughing or coughing – probably both- and looking like a wet puppy, “Dude are you okay? That wave was hardcore! I totally should have warned you!”
“Oui, Oui I am fine Cosima, just help me up!” Cosima leans across and grabs the girl’s hand, hauling her onto the board between them. She doesn’t want to let go of Delphine’s hand, but she reluctantly gives it up.
“How about I go cough up the rest of the Pacific I seem to have swallowed, smoke a nice little cigarette and watch you, oh great one?” Delphine asks with a smirk on her face.
Cosima grins right back and warns, “Listen don’t hate me after I completely show you up, okay?”
Rolling her eyes Delphine heads towards shore, while Cosima paddles back out, determined not to make a fool of herself in front of the sexy blonde.
Two and a half hours later Cosima is exhausted. Her whole body is burning with the exertion of surfing and paddling, she’s eager to get back on solid ground and dry out. Delphine had stayed the entire time, eyes wide with amazement as she watched the shorter girl surf like a pro. She finds out from Art that Cosima teaches surf lessons in her little spare time, just a way to pay the bills.
When Cosima reaches the towels Delphine and the others have laid out, she collapses, “So, am I good enough to be your teacher?” she asks with a hint of cockiness in her voice.
“Hmm, perhaps, but you are very cheeky. I think I should get lessons for free just for putting up with you!” Delphine teases.
Cosima rolls over to face her, the sun has dried and fluffed her golden curls and she looks like an angel Cosima thinks, except the things she wants to do to Delphine are far from angelic.
“How about this, you tell me your story and bring the donuts, and I’ll teach you how to surf almost as good as me” Cosima says with a wink.
Delphine can’t hold back the smile that breaks out at the smaller woman’s offer; as they walk up the beach with the rest of the surf club she says, “What would you like to know?”
Cosima turns to Delphine, taking a second to look into those hazel eyes, and says “Everything.”