A cold, blustery wind had sprung up from the south.
The surf roared beneath our house, perched high up on the clifftops.
Each time a wave crashed onto the rock platform below, our house would reverberate, the windows shaking in their panes.
I was 10, and I got cold easily. I wore two pairs of socks, one pair of joggers (I didn’t own uggs), thermal pants, flannelette pyjama bottoms over the top, a jersey singlet, a long sleeve top and a quilted shirt over that, my Dad’s fleece and my Ma’u’s beanie completing the ensemble.
The Tahitians, as we collectively called my Mum’s family, had invaded our house (only Dad was allowed to say that). They huddled around the tiny oil heater in the centre of our living room, all in various states of dress. They were speaking French and Tahitian (to each other, not to me) and I was bored, so I put on my raincoat and went outside.
The surf was vicious. I watched, mouth agape, as bits of tree and wood were snatched from their precarious position on the cliff and taken out to sea.
I wanted to get closer.
Rain stung my face and my hands as I wound my way down the vertical path.
Another wave had exploded across the cliff. Bits of salt clung to the small hairs in my nostrils. Wind and rain buffeted me, threatening to dislodge me.
I felt alive!
And so, I continued. Down the steep path, closer and closer to the leviathan sea.
Salt water swirled around below me, frothing bubbles of fizz eddying their way over the bumps and lumps of the platform.
I surveyed the scene before me.
And there, right in the middle of the rock platform, I spotted a fish.
Flipping and flapping all over the rock, it was very much alive and, even to the untrained eye of a 10 year old girl, it was in a state of panic.
I watched as another wave rolled in, pushing the fish towards the cliff and away from the ocean.
It was still panicking.
The ocean migrated back into itself. I’d heard my Dad say it was a 15 second swell.
I made a snap decision.
I leapt down from my precarious hidey-hole, running across the gushing rock platform.
I could see the next wave bulging up, teetering against the wait of all the cubic litres of water it contained.
Faster and faster I went.
I grabbed the fish and it slipped out of my hands. I grabbed it again and for just a tiny moment, looked into its eye. It didn’t talk or anything but I could tell it was grateful that someone had found it.
The wave could no longer balance and it broke, falling all over itself, surging towards us.
I started to run towards the wave.
We ran to each other.
Close enough now, I laid the fish down and said good bye, turning to go before the wave could reach me.
The water was fast and powerful, and pressured to get me. I could feel it behind me as I ran, as fast as my spidery skinny legs could take me.
With the sea roaring and the sky pouring, I jumped up and grabbed onto the cliff, pulling my legs in towards me.
The wave got the cliff but it didn’t get me.
With a heavy breath, salt and exhilaration pumping through my lungs, I looked back.
Mr Fish was gone.
No action to take today. Just a memory I wanted to share with you.