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Fear of Falling

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Kono could always tell when a wave was going to go bad. She'd be angling across the face of a real bomb, everything clean, hair close to dry from the wind displaced by a hundred tonnes of falling salt water, and she'd feel it. It hit her stronger than a premonition and with less clarity: pure knowledge that everything was about to go wrong, and there wasn't a thing in the world she could do.

That moment of realisation -- the hundredth of a second before she figured out what was wrong -- always felt worse than getting axed.

She'd known as clear as the water could have told her what was going to happen the second before that last pounder fallen apart around her. She'd known even as she'd tried to bail. She'd never told anyone, but that one half second had caused more nightmares than the actual snap of over-extended ligaments, unheard under the smothering roar of water.

That was where Kono marked the end of pro surfing: the flash of blinding terror worse than almost drowning and worse than six months of re-constructive surgery. Even now when she surfed, a tiny part of her would wonder, is this the wave that'll bring that back? The unease made her cautious on the water -- though not by kook standards -- and maybe that was why she never felt it that bad on a board again.

Years later, again it was before she figured out what was wrong that her stomach seemed to squeeze and turn inside her. Looking back, she could have said it was the set of McGarrett's shoulders, the extra shade of paleness in Kaye's cheeks, or the way Danny wrapped his hands around the edge of the table, knuckles white, but that hadn't been it, really. It hadn't even been when her eyes had met her cousin's, and she'd seen the dread there too. She'd already known by then that the end of her second career was going to hurt more than the first.