The boy gasped for breath, hair in his mouth, before the next wave slammed him back against the bottom. He tumbled, the fizz of bubbles around him. Back to the surface. Another desperate breath. Stinging eyes searching for land. In the pre-dawn light the ocean was a roiling
grey, the dark gumtrees so close…
Knocked under by another wave, bull kelp tangling around his limbs. He clung to it as the current sucked him away from shore. His hands were so cold he couldn’t grip the kelp, but he wrapped slick loops of it around his wrists, adrenaline and fear giving him strength.
The water receded in a rush of whitewash and for a moment his head and torso were above the water.
‘Help!’ he called, voice raw.
A crash and he was under again. He held his breath, wrists locked in the kelp, until the rushing water had passed.
Above the sound of the wind and the waves, a dog barked…