Beyond the Rising Tide
by Sarah Beard
Genre: YA Speculative Romance
Release Date: June 14th 2016
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Praise for the Book:
“Vividly imagined, this novel is the perfect mix of modern love story and literary fiction. One brimming with genuine emotion that had me re-reading passages simply because they were too beautifully written to experience just once.” --Julie N. Ford, author of With No Regrets
“This book is not only an engaging and satisfying supernatural romance, but also a beautiful story about life, death, and the gray places in between.” --E.B. Wheeler, author of The Haunting of Springett Hall
"This is one of those stories that stays with you long after the closing scene. It was beautifully imagined and vividly written and I absolutely loved it!” --Teresa Richards, author of Emerald Bound
If she turns around, she’ll see me. If I speak, she’ll hear my voice. I open my mouth to do that, but it’s parched, hit with an unexpected drought of words.
I’ve been walking for hours, and I still don’t have a solid plan. I have an end goal, but it’s like looking up at the peak of a mountain when I’m still in the valley. I want Avery to find happiness again, but I have no idea how to get her there.
Luckily, improvising is what I’m best at. Writing songs on the fly, talking myself out of trouble, and ad-libbing life in general. When I had a life, I was dropped into a new environment every few months with no time for planning. Survival depended on my ability to improvise, because it was the only way to keep my head above water.
As I inch toward Avery, I turn phrases over in my mind, trying to choose the best way to introduce myself. I hate to think how she’ll react if she recognizes me, but I doubt she will. I saw her run across my picture on a missing persons report once, and she scanned right past it. Besides, I saw my reflection in the shop window this morning, and although my face is the same, I don’t exactly look like myself with my new Jack Frost hair.
Over her shoulder, I see she’s holding a fishing net in her lap. Her fingers are working with it like she’s trying to free something. A crab. Her hands tremble as she tries to unravel it, so she’s not really getting anywhere.
Without thinking, I fish the pocketknife from my shorts, unfold the blade, and lower it in front of her in offering. She flinches and whips around to look at me, eyes wide.
So much for improvising.
I nod toward the tangled mess in her lap. “For the crab.” Yes. Those are the words I’ve waited six months to speak to her. If Charles comes in the next moment to take back his ring, at least I can live in eternal peace knowing I was able to utter those three words.
Her brows pinch together, then she shakes her head and turns back to the crab. “I’m trying to free him, not eat him.”
For a few breaths, I’m speechless. In awe that she just talked to me. She can see me. And hear me. If I reach out and touch her shoulder, she’ll feel my fingertips on her skin. I don’t, of course. I’ve scared her enough for one day.
“I know,” I say, trying to keep my voice soft and non-threatening. I crouch down and offer the knife again, this time handle first. “It’s for the net.”
Her hands go still, and then she smiles sheepishly. “Oh. Right.”
She takes the knife and goes to work, biting her lower lip as she concentrates on plucking away strands of netting. I wonder why she’s going to so much trouble to free a half-dead crab, but I say nothing because for some reason it seems really important to her.
The knife makes her task easier, but when the crab is free, she frowns at the water, swallowing hard. Seeing the reluctance in her face, I stand and open my hand. “Here. I’ll throw it in.”
She deposits the crab in my palm, and I carry the newly liberated creature to where the waves are pitching against the rock. I toss it back home, and it disappears beneath the marbled surface.
When I turn back, Avery is standing with her arms twined around her waist. As I stroll toward her, the wind kicks up and sends golden strands of hair flying around her. With the way she’s standing there on the rocks, she looks like some kind of mythical siren. I feel just as scared as if she were one, just as bewitched. The haunting song in her eyes lures me in until I’m standing right in front of her. She gazes up at me a long moment, searching my face as if she’s hunting for familiarity. For a minute I worry she recognizes me. But then she folds the knife and hands it back.
I’m going to tell you something about myself: I love the ocean. And I’m terrified of it. I love strolling along the beach, watching and listening to the waves roll in. I love the feel of the water as it washes over my feet and then drags me, inch by inch, out to sea. I love stepping into the waves and then moving deeper, feeling the tug and pull of that majestic and powerful thing that is the sea. But as soon as I can’t feel the sand beneath my feet, I panic. My imagination offers up all kinds of terrifying suggestions of what creatures are lurking beneath me, or how far the sea floor is from my feet.
Despite this fear, I knew that if I was going to write a book about a surfer, I needed to try surfing. So one December afternoon when I was on vacation near Avila beach, I squeezed into a wetsuit (the Pacific is COLD in December), and carried my borrowed surfboard into the waves. I’d watched a bunch of YouTube surfing lessons beforehand and practiced “popping up” on the sand, so in theory, I knew the basics.
As I paddled out past the breakers though, I wasn’t thinking about how to choose the right wave or where to put my feet or how fun this would be. All I could think about was where the shark might be. Every time I dipped my arm in the water, I practically expected it to get chomped off by a three-foot-wide mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. Sure, there was only a 1 in 3.7 million chance that I’d be attacked, but the sharks would smell my fear and single me out, right?
Well, I finally made it past the breakers, and that’s when I paused for a minute and told myself to chill out. I’d made it this far, and I was going to surf, and I was going to have fun. And if I got eaten by a shark, at least I would die knowing that I was brave enough to face my fears. I looked out to sea at the set of waves that was moving toward me. I studied their shape and paddled over to where the swell would be the fullest. Then I turned my board shoreward while recalling all those surfing tips. When I felt the wave begin to swell beneath me, I paddled as hard as I could, then popped up to my feet.
I was standing! I was SURFING!
And then a few seconds later I biffed it and learned what it was like to have my sinuses cleaned out with saltwater. But I didn’t care, because I had surfed. I knew what it felt like now, and it was AMAZING. But even more amazing was knowing that I’d overcome a fear so that I could experience something new.