…the ones that, you know, make the waves.” Having just made it out through the shorebreak and the impact zone, the only-somewhat-younger man was directing the comment to the oldest surfer in the lineup.
No answer. The oldest surfer was scanning the horizon, blinking in the glare as he checked the indicators, a bump to the south, a change in color in the kelp beds. “I mean,” the younger surfer said, loud enough for the others to hear; the alpha, closest to the point, those too far up to make a wave when the next set comes; those sitting on the shoulder, some afraid to challenge (the bigger waves or the three or four most-competitive surfers), others eagerly awaiting that wave where someone falls on the takeoff, gets taken out by the first section. “I mean, you, you must’ve heard them… you know, when you could hear and shit. I mean… I think, I think I hear them… now. You?”
There were no sets approaching. Even the dominant surfer of the moment, the alpha, looked over for an answer. After a moment, his back to the horizon, the answer came:
I’ve heard the click and clack of an albatross, the subtle swoop of pelicans skimming updrafts, heard seagulls argue, whales sing and seals bark; I’ve heard thunder roll and crack, heard the music of rain on moving water, I’ve heard rocks grind and sand squeal; I have heard the squall and the growl and the stadium roar of waves, the boos, the ‘no, no, no;’ and the hiss, and the whistle; and sometimes, I’ve heard the low whisper, ‘okay, okay, okay;’ and sometimes, even rarer, the laughter. And… more. But, the generators…”
The oldest surfer out looked to the north horizon. A cargo ship, outbound. He closed his eyes and listened. They all listened, though for just a moment, the moment the oldest surfer, quietly, stroked ten yards over, turned, just the other side of the peak, and took off.