"You throw like a girl."
"What?" Julia turned and peered into a familiar face.
"Aunt Georgia said you'd be here. She said you like the sea lions across the bay."
"I haven't been here in a long time," she said.
"'Heard you are a big swimmer."
She didn't feel like talking, and let the wind drown the words. The sun made its quick descent behind them as she stopped to pick up an agate. Sea lions nestled for the evening across the bay. The chilled air prompted Julia to head toward her aunt's house.
"Want to go for a boat ride?" asked Stephen.
"It's nice at night. I have a blanket and lantern in my boat."
Julia was intrigued. They found his rowboat and pulled it to the water. Once she settled in her seat, Julia wrapped the Pendleton blanket around her shoulders. Lights from Stephen's lantern, Moe's restaurant, and various hotels reflected serenely in the water.
Suddenly Julia felt the buzz of her cell phone. She pulled it from her pocket as Stephen lifted the oars from the boat's bottom. An oar popped the phone from her fingers, and her startled gasp made Stephen turn. The second oar swung into the phone, which sailed into the water.
Julia stood up--the boat toppled. She lurched forward and grabbed Stephen's shoulders.
"I'm sorry..." said Stephen. He attempted to steady himself.
She was livid, and pushed him away. She turned to look in the water when Stephen fell on the seat. Julia felt sharp, cold water surround her. She struggled to free herself from the Pendleton blanket...
A fun-filled day of body-surfing came to an end as Julia found herself rolling in the sand-laden wave. She and Deanna had timed each wave meticulously. They body-surfed into shore without mishap--until this wave. It was more powerful than Julia expected. Her elbow, chin, and hip took turns skidding along the ocean floor. She rolled into shore bleeding, shaken, and thankful for the hands that pulled her from the California surf...
A hand grasped hers. Julia wasn't completely numb yet, and she squeezed her hand around Stephen's. Unfortunately the blanket was still around her feet. Julia made one last attempt to kick it away, and pulled Stephen in beside her.
"Oh geez, oh geez," sputtered Stephen.
"Grab the b-b-boat," stuttered Julia.
Julia couldn't speak. She could barely move or feel anything but the jarring sensation of her chattering teeth. She and Stephen managed to get back in the boat, and back to shore. Someone from a nearby hotel witnessed their calamity, and met them with blankets and warm cocoa.
"You weren't supposed to throw yourself in the surf, just the sea glass," said Aunt Georgia.
Julia looked up and saw her aunt standing with arms akimbo. Light formed a fuzzy, orange halo through Aunt Georgia's hair. Julia raised her mug, and managed a feeble smile.
Series 5 will be posted on Friday, July 17.