On the Crest of a Wave

Back in the spring, the audio version of my short story, On the Crest of a Wave, was published by the lovely people of the North London Story Festival as part of their series, The Writer’s Journey. You can listen to it at their YouTube channel. For those who prefer to read, here’s the text.


Time rushes onward, angry, urgent, as a wave. Everything we know is behind it; certain, comforting, but lost. In front of the wave there is nothing, which looks like darkness. In the sliver between the lost and nothing, there is now.

Now is where the writer lives. Now is where the other people live. They travel together, side by side, on the crest of the wave, flung inexorably forward at a frightening speed.

A vicious headwind from nothing blows into the writer’s face, sweeping his long hair behind him, where it dampens in the surf. The constant rush of water is so loud that he must shout, just to be heard.

Sometimes the force of the wave causes the writer to reach out and grab the hand of someone nearby. He grips her fingers firmly, in order to steady himself. The wave never slows, but the touch of a companion brings the temporary illusion of stability, and for that he is grateful.

On a bad day, when the sea is rough and the wind is strong, simply staying upright and afloat is enough. The writer reaches out to help someone less steady than himself. A small child, or an old person. On such days, the writer cannot write.

On a good day, when the sea is calm and the wind dies down, the writer seizes his chance.

The first step is the desk. It is heavy and wooden, and difficult to manoeuver while out at sea. If the writer is lucky, his close wave-neighbours will notice his struggle and work together to heave the desk into place. He shouts instructions, above the din of the surf. Up a little. Left. More. Stop there.

The next step is the typewriter. Although old and heavy, the writer can handle it himself. He plants the antique contraption down in the middle of the desk.

The writer reaches towards the keys, but the tail of a passing sea creature splashes water across his desk, dampening the page. He throws the wet page away, and feeds a new, dry page under the roller.

Now, finally, the writer is ready to write. He sweeps the hair out of his eyes. Praying that the surf will remain calm for just a few moments, he leans forward and begins to type:

Time rushes onward, angry, urgent, as a wave. Everything we know is behind it; certain, comforting, but lost. In front of the wave there is nothing, which looks like darkness. In the sliver between the lost and nothing, there is now.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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