For June gloom in SoCal…A short story romance I wrote with a specific magazine in mind. It didn’t go very far, but it was fun to try to write a meet-cute in 800 words or less.
by Janice Nigro
The sound of the foghorn on the pier roused Ava out of her sleep, signaling the marine layer had rolled in. She jumped out of bed, grabbed her camera, and ran to the beach to capture the transformation of ordinary scenes into a heaven-like state in the down to sea level fog.
It wasn’t rain, but the air was wet, and felt cool and moist and invigorating in the otherwise dry heat of the desert meets the sea coastal town she now lived in.
The thick marine layer made her invisible as she darted from site to site taking as many photos as she could before the sun zapped it away. The absence of others enhanced the sense of solitude she liked to convey in her photographs.
Until a surfer strode across the beach and into her viewfinder. He stopped at the shoreline and stood enveloped in the dense marine layer. The top half of his wetsuit hung down, his chest bare.
She paused, checking off a list of his features. Tall. Lean. Wetsuit hugging muscles. Long, dark curly hair. Ponytail.
She watched as he zipped up his wetsuit and picked up his aqua colored surfboard embellished with a simple vintage symbol. It glowed in the grayness, like a halo over an angel.
Ava kept her distance while she clicked away to avoid disturbing the serenity of the moment before the surfer jumped onto his board and paddled out to sea.
“Who is that man?” her friend Mia, a painter, asked when Ava showed her the photos.
The images of the surfer were enchanting. He could have been from a dream, but her photograph was proof of his existence.
“I don’t know. He caught a wave before I could introduce myself.”
“Would you have introduced yourself?”
“OK, you got me.”
“Well, anyway, one of these shots would be perfect for the upcoming art exhibition.”
“Yes, I like the last one. He looks like he’s wondering about more than the next wave. I’m going to call it “Waiting for the break.”
“Hmm,” her friend said, “You have to find this guy.”
The night of the exhibition, people jammed into the gallery. The venue was loud from their chatter and the feel-good pop music playing from decades ago.
She pushed her way through the crowd in search of her photograph, stopping along the way to view each work of art. A lack of confidence creeped in for her one small photograph as she passed by the super-sized abstract paintings covering the walls.
When she finally came within view of her image, she gasped.
The surfer with the unmistakable ponytail stood there in front of his photograph. Alone.
She took a deep breath and a gulp from her glass of wine. “I’m going in,” Ava said to herself.
She walked up to the photo and stood next to him. She tried not to stare, but out of her peripheral vision, she caught him checking her out.
He broke the ice. “Do you like the photograph?”
“Yes,” she said, “It’s one of the best images I’ve…ah seen tonight.”
She thought for a moment and without revealing her identity, asked, “Wait…Is that your ponytail? Is that you?”
“Yes to both questions,” he said, “I’m afraid it is. I can tell because of the surfboard.”
They both laughed.
“You were an OK model for the job.”
“Thank you I think?”
“It’s difficult to tell what you were thinking in that moment.”
“Not so complicated. I was just waiting for the right break in the waves. But the way the photographer took the photograph, it looks deeper than that.”
“Like you’re contemplating your whole future. Or maybe just a woman?”
He smiled, exposing his dazzling white teeth.
“Not any current woman. I’m not much of an artist, but I see now why the photographer wanted to capture this moment.”
“Maybe. Or maybe it just appears that way. The photographer might have just seen a handsome man standing with his surfboard in the marine layer.”
“And you would know this how?”
“Because I’m the photographer. Ava, by the way. Nice to finally meet you?” she waited for his response.
His eyes lit up. “Tommy. So, a paparazzo?”
“Guilty. But I don’t usually like to have people in my photos.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Just ones you might be willing to go out on a date with?”
“I’d love that!”
©Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com
Looking for a scientific editor or writer? Contact Janice Nigro at Janice Nigro Ink. I have published in Cell, Science, and Nature, and articles I have edited have appeared in Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, PLoSONE, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Oncotarget.