I hurried to his side as soon as I saw him standing by the water’s edge. He looked to be in serious trouble. He was bent over, face down, palms on knees. He breathed heavily, noisily as he inhaled, his mouth O-shaped, lips extended. His body moved with his breathing.
He must have sensed my presence because eventually he spoke, but head still facing the sand and only when exhaling, his words whisper-riding each puff of air. I had to move closer and bend further down to hear them.
– Big wave!
– Got tossed!
– Board tore loose!
– Rip current!
– Back in!
– Got board!
Without looking up, he pointed to a surfboard that lay in the sand some paces away.
I asked him then what I could do to help him, but he shook his head. Eventually, his breathing slowed. He pushed himself up off his knees. He adjusted his suit. He looked at me and smiled briefly. Then he walked slowly to his surfboard, picked it up, and tucked it under his left arm. He walked back into the surf.