There was a sudden silence before the first wave cracked. She laughed, throwing her head back and letting joy flow through her thunderously. A faint smile danced across his lips, and she looked at it with years of familiarity.
A little boy with light brown hair—surely naturally dyed with years of the sea water and chlorine that was enough to damage it—came running, holding a small boogie board. "Hey, mommy!" His face was etched with delight as her ran forward and sprang himself across his mother.
She laughed again.
"Mommy," he repeated, "there's huuuuge waves today! Let's go surfing!"
She glanced at the man next to her. His brown eyes told her that he was 100% in agreement. She wanted to laugh again. Her husband was always a complete surfing-obsessed dork.
She got up from her beach chair and walked into the house. She always kept her surfing gear next to the door on the patio, for situations like this. Living next to the beach wasn't ideal for her, but she knew surfing as a big part of the family.
"Okay, okay," she agreed. She tied up her hair in a tight bun and slipped off her shirt. She wasn't wearing a wetsuit today, and even though she learned her lesson a while ago, she knew she wasn't going to ride large waves today. Despite the news that today's was huge, she wanted to watch her only son surf today.
"Coming?" she asked her husband before she left the porch. The beach was right next to their house, about a mile walk. The man with auburn hair grinned, and grabbed his surfboard.
"Don't even need to ask."
It's been five hours.
Of course the men haven't nearly finished surfing yet. Frankly, she didn't understand the glamour of it. Salty water, dirty beaches—where was the cleanliness? Chlorine always solved that problem, and lifeguards managed to do their job by keeping the pool clean.
Her husband came back laughing, shaking the seawater out of his hair. It splattered everywhere, soaking her with salt. Her daughter was next to him, doing the same. It was much worse. Even though her daughter preferred short hair to long hair, it still managed to wring salt water everywhere.
She was giggling when she wrapped the towel around her short red hair. Her daughter had inherited the same red shade she had—something she was thankful for. Unlike her husband's, after years of chlorine and beach water, she still managed to retain the original color and shine of her hair.
"My god," her daughter breathed. "Those were huge waves. Good call, bro."
Her younger brother grinned, teeth and all, beaming like the sun.
"Okay, okay," their mother said. She looked endearingly at her two children. She set her hands on her hips, firm in her decision. "Go hit the showers; enough surfing for one day." The two kids groaned—even the father did too. Just a bit, but she had to hold back her smile to retain her mother mode. "After that, we'll have a campfire. With s'mores."
The kids gasped with wide smiles and she conceded. "Yes, yes. With chocolate."
They sat down by the campfire on the beach, holding metal skewers. She always liked these better; they cooked the marshmallows more efficiently. Her husband always complained that they were cost more than they were worth, since they ended up needing to wter off the dried and sticky leftover marshmallows that were on it. Wooden sticks are much better, he would say.
"And less environmentally friendly," she would shoot back, "not to mention splinters."
Her husband would laugh and say that their kids were old enough to understand how to hold wooden sticks without getting hurt. She laughed, saying that he got splinters too when they were younger. Her husband would shove her lightly, enough to push her into another round of chuckles.
Their kids would watch this exchange carefully. The son never gave it much more thought—as long as their parents got along, he got anything he asked for. Their daughter was always curious. Curiosity inherited from her mother, everyone would say.
"Curiosity killed the cat," their father told them.
Their mother would feign annoyance, holding her hand at the hip, and cradle her two children replying, "Curiosity is the first step to knowledge. The cat died nobly."
"Oh please," their aunt added, "the only noble thing you did was not saving your surfboard from the ocean. And that's only because you lost it to begin with."
The whole family laughed, thunder in the air. It was a good family, she decided.
The beach was expensive, but it was her husband's home. He grew up here after all and wanted his children the same. It costed her some extra shifts, for safety, but it was worth it. Surfing almost everyday and campfires every other night brought their family closers, telling stories to each other. About their day, about their work, about their school. There were no secrets kept. It was an open book family, and they read each other well.
Today was another day of story time. The children finished off explaining what happened to them already and their mother just finished the parent's stories. It was barely night, and their daughter wanted more.
"Hey," her daughter said, grinning. Her face was lit aglow against the campfire. Her smile was smug, something she inherited from her father. "You know I just realized you never told us how you and dad met."
"She did," her husband said. He picked at his coconut water, stirring the straw around a few times until flakes of the coconut intermixed with the water. "She ran into me with a surfboard."
Her daughter guffawed and the son looked astonished. "Mommy really does suck at surfing, doesn't she?"
"Yep," her husband agreed.
"Oh, shut up," she snapped, slapping him lightly. "You aren't too great at diving either."
"Okay, back on point," their daughter reminded. She pointed to her parents. "You never told us how you guys got together."
She glanced at her husband, who merely shrugged. Ah, what the heck.
"Okay so when I met your father—"
"—When you ran into him with a surfboard..."
"Okay, stop it!" She slammed her hands against her ears. She peered down at her children. "I was studying in college. He was two years older than me and lived in the city his entire life. I was from the area where no one knew about, which put us off to a pretty bad start."
Her husband chuckled. "We didn't. Not because of that, anyways." He looked at his kids lovingly. "Your mother always overreacting. She always thought she was out of place. She was clumsy—you know that—and stuttered non-stop."
"No way," their daughter said. She crossed her arms over her bare legs. "Mom? Stuttering? Never."
"Yes. Though later I found out it was only when I was around."
The campfire's color brought redness to her cheeks and so did her husband's comment. "Oh my god, why would you tell them that? They'll never listen to me now!"
Their daughter was still smiling like a cheshire cat. "Okay, okay. So let me get this straight—mom liked you first…"
"Massive crush," he supplied.
"Oh my god, I can't believe I'm saying this," said the 12-year old, "but that is so cute."
"I know," her husband said.
"Okay, so you guys were off to a bad start. How did it go from there?"
"We didn't get off to a bad start," her husband corrected. "She thought we went off on one. Like I said, she was paranoid. Knocking me over with a surfboard—big deal. I get knocked off waves all the time back then."
"Back then?" his wife asked, raising an eyebrow. "You still always get knocked off waves now."
"Oh, my parents' love story is cute," their daughter decided. "More."