Winter and snowboarding at Christmas… or summer and surfing?
It was two weeks until summer break and I could hardly wait, but that thought suddenly drifted to the back of my mind as I was passing the principal’s office. Mrs. Beck, the secretary, called me over. She introduced me to probably the cutest guy I had ever seen in my life. He was very slim and almost 6’ tall, and was a serious redhead with the cutest freckles across his perfect nose. I immediately started thinking I now knew what I wanted for Christmas…him, and I almost missed Mrs. Beck’s first words.
“Maaka…Maaka…I’d like to introduce you to Casey McCall. Casey this is Maaka Keil. Since you’re both year 13, I would appreciate it, Maaka, if you’d take Casey under your wing and help him learn his way around. He’s just here for the day to get a feel for the staff and the college.”
“I’d love to Mrs. Beck,” I replied…and I meant it…and I mean, I really meant it.
“If you’re ready Casey, just follow me,” I said to him as casually as I could.
“Thanks, I really appreciate you helping me,” he said as he fell in beside me and we started down the hall to chemistry class.
We wandered down the hall to my locker. I got my chem books and we headed for class. As we entered the room, I introduced him to Ms. Peel and, after she welcomed him, we sat ourselves down in the front two desks of the row closest to the windows. After an exhilarating 60 minutes of review, we returned to my locker before we proceeded to math, and then lunch. We sat together getting to know each other a little bit. I did explain how I was dreading exams starting next Thursday. He was more than a little happy that he had already written all his exams at his previous school. Oh, and that he would have the two weeks before summer break off too.
After lunch we went to physics, and finally our last class of the day, computers. Two hours and five minutes later it was time to be released and go home. Casey and I quickly returned to my locker and I grabbed the books I needed for studying and we headed for the front doors.
“Thanks for all your help,” he said as we walked out the doors.
“Yeah for sure, you’re welcome,” I answered.
As we walked past the buses, it appeared we were both getting on the bus to Nuhaka. I smiled to myself as I knew we’d sitting together and could talk some more. His dad had dropped him off in the morning and had registered him for next term, but he was taking the bus home. Living close together and riding home together didn’t hurt my feelings one bit. We talked mainly about his hometown, old school, and why his family had moved to Nuhaka. His dad was in the armed forces since way before Casey was born, had just retired, and wanted someplace quiet and peaceful to retire to. Close to beaches, but not too close, was an asset. Nuhaka definitely fit that description, plus I guess his dad had grown up in the area. I did find out that, when I said hometown earlier, I should have said hometowns. His dad had been transferred a bunch of times so he had been in seven different schools since he started school. I thought that must have sucked. As Dad was principal of the school, I’d spent my entire life here, and had life-long friends, something you don’t get if you move too often. He agreed and said the most important thing to him now was that, this time, they wouldn’t be moving any more. This was it.
After getting off the bus in Nuhaka, and as we were walking along, we decided we’d get together after supper and study for my exams together. When we got to his place, he announced he’d arrived, and we decided I’d come over about 5:30 and he’d help me study. I continued on home and yelled, “I’m home,” as I walked in the door and, as usual, got told, in no uncertain terms, that my mom’s hearing was just fine and I didn’t have to shout. I dropped my books by the door and proceeded to the kitchen to sneak a few tastes of whatever she was cooking.
It didn’t take her long to ask why I didn’t put my backpack in my room. When I told we had a new kid, Casey, in school, and we were going to study together, the first thing she asked me was, “Is he cute?”
I replied, “Cuteness has nothing to do with it. He’s really smart and he’ll be able to help me bring my marks up.”
“Uh huh, how foolish of me to doubt your intentions dear boy. Can you forgive me? And get your fingers out of the meatballs. Did you even wash your hands?” she responded.
“I’ve been able to forgive you countless times before, so I think I can this time,” I answered, “And my hands haven’t been anywhere they shouldn’t have been.”
Just then Dad walked in, thankfully before Mom started listing the places they shouldn’t have been, and Mom and I set everything out while he went to their room to change. Of course, as we dished up, the conversation got around to me having a new friend, and of course even Dad had to ask me if he was cute.
“Damn, how shallow do you two think I am?” I asked him, then grinning and replied, “Okay, okay, yeah he’s cute, very cute, but he’s also smart, very smart. I mean, come on I can appreciate intelligence too…and he’ll be able to help me with me with my exams. Like tonight we’re studying chem.”
The rest of our conversation basically revolved around Casey. How did I meet him, how many classes did we have together, where did he move from, what does his dad do, and on and on. Since Casey hadn’t quite had time to give me his entire life history, I was only able to answer some of their questions. I did offer to find some rope, so that when I brought him over, they could tie him down and ask him themselves. Mom flicked my ear and told me to stop being a smart ass. That’s okay though, that ear hadn’t had any feeling left in it for years.
At 5:25, I grabbed my backpack and made my way over to Casey’s. I rang the doorbell and he answered it almost instantly. We headed for the kitchen first and he introduced me to his mom and dad. They were really nice and told me how happy they were Casey had found a friend already. As soon as we could get away, we went to his room and plopped down on his bed and basically stared at the ceiling.
“So how was dinner?” he asked after a few seconds.
“Awesome,” I replied, “Mom’s a great cook. So is Dad actually…me, not so much.”
“Dinner was great here too,” he said, “My mom’s a great cook too. Dad? Well he can boil water. I’m pretty good though.”
“Looks like we won’t starve to death then,” I joked, “So you wanna get this stupid studying out of the way so we can do something a little more interesting?”
“Let’s do it,” he replied, and we did.
We became totally engrossed in chem, balancing equations for almost an hour, then gravimetric stoichiometry for another hour, which by the way, I finally understood with Casey’s help. Seriously I really did. When we were finished, we just flopped back on the bed, both took a deep breath, and almost simultaneously exclaimed, “Finally!” We just relaxed, switching our minds into neutral, as I glanced around his room for a few minutes.
Casey rolled over onto his side, and after he looked at me for a few seconds, said with a chuckle, “I know where the general store is and that’s about it. So you wanna go for a walk and you can show me where the interesting stuff is around here?”
I turned my head and we kinda looked at each other for a few seconds before I responded, “Interesting stuff? You think this place has interesting stuff?”
“Well its gotta have something interesting doesn’t it? Like one or two things, right?” he questioned before adding, “Please don’t tell me the general store is the most interesting place in town.”
I just laughed and replied that there might be a couple of places…maybe, and we stood up, and headed for the door. Now to say Nuhaka lacked interesting places might not really be giving up a big secret. The first place I showed him was my favourite café, Steeds. Okay, the only café, with an added convenience shop no less. We spent a few minutes talking to Mark, a friend who was ‘forced’ to work there evenings because his folks owned it. Then, with a French vanilla coffee in hand, we moved on to the river. The romance of sitting, talking, and watching the water flow by with a cute mate seemed appealing. Yeah I know, there wasn’t any romance…but I am a dreamer.
We found a spot and decided it would be a good place to chat and sip our coffee. We leaned back and chatted as we listened to the water flow by. Christmas and summer break did come into our conversation and obviously hitting the beach, and let’s not forget the meaning of life…surfing. Mahia Bay with Point Annihilation, Rolling Stones for serious surfing, or Blacks Reef for beginners. At that point, surfing took over our conversation. Casey had done some surfing, sort of, when he had holidayed with his folks on Solomon Islands. He had managed to get to where he could stand up on his board on small waves, but that was about it, and that was two years ago. So goodbye Point Annihilation and Rolling Stones and hello Blacks Reef. Oh, but that would mean helping, holding, maybe two on a board, maybe even skin to skin contact...to hell with Point Annihilation and Rolling Stones.
Needless to say, Casey got seriously excited when I said I’d teach him and he’d be dropping in on the big waves in no time. We did decide that if Casey was going to take up surfing for real, he needed his own board. However, surfboards are not cheap and he didn’t have a lot of money to spend. As a beginner he would need a board 7½ feet long or longer and about 22 inches wide. A fun board with a round nose and a good amount of rocker, so he doesn’t pearl or nose dive on takeoff, would be perfect. Everyone I knew owned at least one surfboard, so who did I know with a fun board or longboard for sale? I thought for a minute and remembered Carl had just bought a new short board, so Casey and I decided to go by his place when we were ready to go home, and an hour or so later we were knocking on his door. I introduced Casey and him and we were soon in the garage looking at an almost perfect four-year-old fun board. It had a couple of decent scratches but no big issues, and an 8 foot leash. He even had some ultra-light epoxy performance fins. Casey fell in love with it and when Carl said he needed $250 for it, Casey said, “Sold, can I pick it up tomorrow?” and that was it. I now had a new surfing partner. We chatted with Carl for at least an hour and he and Casey quickly sounded like old friends. In fact, it was decided that on the weekend we were going surfing. The rest of the way home, Casey was amped. As soon as we walked in the door, he announced to his mom and dad that we were going surfing on Saturday.
“That’s wonderful honey,” his mom responded followed by, “It’s been a long time since you tried surfing.”
“How can you go surfing if you don’t have a board?” his dad asked, “And might I remind you, you didn’t learn how to surf particularly well the first time you tried it.”
“That’s no problem, Maaka and Carl will be with me. And I do have a board. I just bought a fun board from Carl and I’m picking it up tomorrow.”
“Oh,” his dad replied, sounding a little surprised, while his mom just kinda stared at us and smiled.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ve been surfing since I was four and so has Carl. Casey will be totally safe with us.”
“Obviously he’s safe then,” his dad said grinning, “I know the surfing around the peninsula is amazing, and I know there are a limited number of activities around here to entertain teens.”
The next day after school, Carl and I made my way over to Casey’s. Casey dug the money out of an old sock in his sock drawer, and gave it to Carl. We then walked to Carl’s and he presented Casey with his first ever very own surfboard. Casey couldn’t have happier, and he examined every square inch of his board on the way home. And, let’s just say there was a surfboard in their kitchen as he and his folks ate dinner. He did manage to make it over to my place that evening, and we did manage to do some more chem studying. We even managed to wander around a bit with Carl and Trina before doing some serious board waxing later in the evening.
Come Saturday morning, I knew that Casey was amped about surfing, and truth be told, I was pretty amped about teaching him. For me and Carl surfing was natural, like walking. When we were on our boards, we never thought about what we were doing, we just did it. That wouldn’t be the case for Casey, and teaching him to surf would be a blast. The ride to the beach was fun, he seemed more than ready. We got out of the SUV and carried our boards down to the beach. There were a few guys out already.
Since Casey had tied surfing but hadn’t really been taught much, we talked through everything from the mechanics of waves, to knowing when you were in position, as we pointed to guys already hitting the waves, and Casey watched them closely. We also went over carrying your board past the shore break, how to cover your head when you wiped out, and repeated the steps to catching a wave…spotting it, getting into position, paddling, and popping up. We even set our boards down on the sand and showed him how to paddle properly and how to pop up.
It was then time to hit the water. We grabbed our boards, headed into the water, and continued until we were chest deep. Then we got on our boards and started paddling. The waves were breaking gently, and he was paddling well. When we got out there, I explained how to tread water while sitting on his board. He had no problem with it and the three of us watched the rollers coming in and Carl talked again about what to look for in a wave. We tried paddling into a few waves together so he would get the feel and Carl or I pushed him into a few. He quickly figured out the paddling & positioning on the board and now had a good idea of the types of waves that were surf-able.
After missing out on a few, and riding several the easy way, on his knees hanging on to the board, I watched as a wave rose up behind him. I yelled to him to paddle hard, and as the wave surged behind him, he took five strokes and he was riding the wave. He popped up and almost managed to stand up. Half a dozen waves later, he managed to stand up and ride one almost all the way in. We got a huge grin from him after that one. It wasn’t long before he was popping up right after catching a wave and making it to or almost to shore. Now I’m not going to mention wipeouts, but he did learn to cover his head really well.
Since Rolling Stones is right alongside Blacks Reef, Carl and I took turns hitting the big waves. One of us did stay reasonably close to Casey to keep an eye on him though. Some five hours later or so, and totally noodled, the three of us made our way back to the beach, and after just lying on the beach for a while, made our way to the SUV. Casey was on cloud nine and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone happier. He was surfing like a champion…well almost…okay, sorta.
When we arrived back in Nuhaka, it was already starting to get dark. Carl dropped us off at Casey’s and headed for home. Of course our boards couldn’t be left outside, so after carrying them to his bedroom, we, well he, pounced on his mom and dad.
“Oh my God!” he exclaimed, “You have no idea what an amazing day I had today. Maaka and Carl were great at teaching me and I’ve been surfing on my own for hours. I can’t wait to try Annihilation.”
“Whoa, slow down,” his dad said, laughing. “So you had a good day?”
“Awesome, totally awesome. I’ve never had so much fun in my life,” he continued, “And I owe it all to Maaka…and Carl.” Then looking at me, he asked, “We’re going out again tomorrow right?”
I didn’t need any persuading and quickly replied, “For sure, if you want to.”
“Want to, of course I want to,” he exclaimed again.
“We I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you so excited. Would you boys like some food?” his mom asked with a grin.
“Yes please,” we both replied. We had taken food and drinks with us, but we’d polished those off a couple of hours ago, so yeah, we were hungry.
His mom put together some leftovers and we each had a plate piled high with all sorts of good food. As soon as we finished eating, we headed for Casey’s room, and plunked down on his bed.
“Hey why don’t you stay here tonight?” he asked, “I’m not going to be able to sleep for hours, and it would be good to just lay around talking and stuff.”
“Sounds great. I don’t think I’ll be falling asleep anytime soon either, so yeah,” I answered.
I then let Mom know and we were set. We went to the kitchen and grabbed some juice, made our way back to his room, and once again flopped down on his bed. We lay quietly for a minute or two sipping on our drinks. Then, of course, our conversation resumed with surfing. That train of thought continued for well over an hour. Most of it revolving around the sheer joy of surfing and when did I think he’d be good enough for Annihilation.
Our first topic of the night, after surfing, was what did we want for Christmas. I wasn’t about to tell him what I really wanted so I said wasn’t sure and he laughed at me.
“Christmas is like three weeks away mate, and you haven’t asked for anything yet?” he questioned.
I kinda grinned as I thought about not being able to ask Mom and Dad for what I wanted because he wasn’t their kid, so I just replied, “I seldom ask for anything. Mom and Dad know me well enough they usually figure it out. And, hey, then it’s a surprise.”
“Yeah, same here, I don’t always ask either,” he responded, “But this year I asked for an Xbox. That was before we moved here though.”
We then wandered into talking about friends, but this time the friends thing slowly turned into have you ever been in love. After he explained he had never been in a relationship, I wondered if he was looking for wisdom from me. Obviously I wasn’t going to be much help as I didn’t have a clue. We both expressed a bit of surprise that some hot young babe hadn’t stolen a heart and become the object of either of us hot young guy’s attention. I knew why mine hadn’t been stolen and I assumed maybe moving so much had made it unlikely for him.
Then Casey suggested we crawl under the covers and get more comfortable, as falling asleep in the middle of a sentence was possible. We stripped down to our boxers, made a quick trip to the bathroom, and were crawled under the covers. He had a nice double bed so we weren’t crammed up against each other, not that I would have minded. We were both laying on our backs with his right hand and my left hand between us. After a bit, he got quiet for a few minutes, almost like he was sorting things out in his head. Then I felt his pinky finger touch mine. I almost stopped breathing, but I didn’t move. It took like a hundred years before I felt it move a little. I waited a few seconds then moved mine. Another hundred years and he moved his again. I moved mine right away. Then, slowly his pinky moved on top of mine. I wiggled mine again, and ever so slowly his whole hand covered mine. The feelings running through my body at that point can’t be explained, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack when he gently squeezed my hand. I slowly turned my hand over and laced my fingers through his.
We were both shaking like we’d seen a ghost when we both slowly turned our heads and looked at each other. There were tears running down his cheek, and there was the most pleading look I have ever seen on his beautiful face. I smiled. Our faces moved closer slowly. So slowly, it was like ultra-slow motion. Then…our lips met, just for a second…and Casey was suddenly in my arms. I just held him and kissed the top of his head. After several minutes, he pulled back and smiled at me. He’d been quietly crying, but even his tear stained eyes smiled at me. A few seconds later, our lips met again. This time there were no tears. A couple of little murmurs, but no tears. There were a few more kisses, another tear or two, and some very tight cuddling over the next several, several, several minutes.
When we did move apart a little, I couldn’t help grinning as I whispered, “There is a Santa,” before kissing those beautiful lips again.
A minute or so later, as we looked into each other’s eyes, he whispered, “I’ve wanted to kiss you and hold you since that first day we met. Thank you for Maaka. Thank you for being you,” as he teared up a little again.
“I’ve been hoping and wishing you’d please be like me since I first saw you too,” I told him as I got another big smile and another kiss.
We just lay there in each other’s arms for a few minutes then, as we, I think, absorbed what was happening between us, we calmed down and seemed to get less emotional or less weird. Neither of us wanted to break that contact though. Right then we were one, laying there in each other’s arms…and that never ended until we woke up the next morning. I woke up first and, trust me, there was no way I was going to move. Being there in his arms was the most unbelievable feeling in the world. When I heard his breathing change and I knew he was awake, I gave him a squeeze. He wiggled a little and those perfect lips met mine once again.
“Mornin’,” I managed in the second our lips were apart.
“Mornin’,” he replied as he broke our second kiss, grinned and looked into my eyes.
It took a while for us to get out of bed. I think, if we had a choice, we would have stayed there all day, but nature called, and so did his mom to tell us breakfast was ready. He yelled that we’d be right there and we responded to nature, got dressed, and made our way to the kitchen.
“Morning boys,” both his mom and dad said, as they greeted us with big smiles, and to say they both gave us a curious look would have been an understatement.
Our response was a simple, “Mornin’,” and we were soon involved in making short work of sausages, eggs, toast, and coffee…without responding to their curious look. We had surfing to do and this was not the time for a bunch of, ‘happy, happy, how sweet,’ conversation. I gave Carl a call while we ate. He said he, Scott, and Trina were heading out in a couple of hours and he’d pick us up. That meant a couple more hours of studying chem.
We were ready to go as he pulled into the driveway. A few minutes strapping our boards down and we climbing into the SUV.
As soon as we sat down, he looked at us and grinned. “I been watching you two the last couple a’days,” he said, “you guys got a thing goin’ dontcha?”
Casey just stared at him as I gave him a jab and said, “Yeah we got a thing goin’, so fuck you.”
“I guess I don’t have to worry about that happening anymore, thank god,” he responded laughing, as he returned the jab.
Casey visibly relaxed and glancing at Carl, leaned over and gave me a quick kiss.
“Okay, there’ll be none of that unless Trina’s here, and I can get some lovin’ too,” he remarked with a chuckle, and we were off to pick up Trina and then Scott.
Fifteen minutes later we were on our way to our version of surfers’ paradise. When we arrived, we noticed it was a bit busier than it had been on Saturday but not crazy. Casey of course wanted to try Annihilation but we persuaded him to stay with Blacks Reef for one more day at least. I mean, he had made great progress, but wasn’t quite ready for 15+ foot waves quite yet. We didn’t want him to get caught inside and wipeout bigtime on some big wave. He was good at covering his head on small wipeouts, but on a big wave? Getting clunked on the head by your own board on a big wave is seldom fun.
Scott, Trina, and Carl were soon paddling their way out on Rolling Stones, and Casey and I were paddling our way out on Blacks Reef. It was offshore and we knew we were in for an awesome day. It was cranking and Casey soon caught a nice clean wave and was taking the drop in no time. The grin on his face after he kicked out and started paddling back towards me was insane. The rest of the day turned out just as awesome as that first ride. And, that was just the beginning. Hitting the waves daily for a week, once school let out, and being with Casey everyday made my life perfect. I totally loved what I was doing and I totally loved who I was doing it with. I was happier than I ever imagined I could be and I was almost ready to start believing in miracles. Oh, and I passed all my exams and my chem and math marks went up more than 10%.
Christmas morning was awesome. All the family were home and the gifts were pretty much what everyone wanted. I got Mrs. Palmers basecoat and topcoat wax, t-shirts, shorts, necklaces, bracelets, and an anklet. Since Casey and I being together wasn’t a secret, a couple of the things I got were doubles, one for me and a matching one for Casey. Casey and I exchanged matching rings, and Casey did get his Xbox. Mom invited Casey’s mom and dad over for Christmas dinner which was going to be rather late…like when we young ones got home from surfing.
As for me and Casey, as we drove to Mahia Bay, this Christmas was our Christmas. I think our parents had guessed that and went out of their way to make it so. I love our parents. After a few good rides at Blacks Reef, I grinned at Casey and started to paddle towards Annihilation. I got a huge grin back, and he was paddling like a madman right behind me. We made it over and caught some perfect waves, including a few big ones. I’d like to say wipeouts never happened, but we both managed some excellent ones.
On the way home, when Casey asked, “Can life get any better than this?” I just smiled and replied, “I can think of one thing better than Annihilation.”
Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.
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