Chery Starkey is a native Hooser, who enjoys traveling, camping and writing. She is on a constant lookout for ideas for stories, from moonlit nights to the screeching of a bird, everything is fair game.
To craft her writing skill, she attended a community college and took several writing courses. The class, Imaginative Writing, is where the story Journey into Paradise originated. She was encouraged by her teacher to submit the story to a magazine, which found a place with the Scarlet Leaf.
Journey into Paradise
While the day is still in its infancy a solitary surfer, with his surfboard at his side, starts his journey to leave the world behind. The very air surrounding him has become dry and stale; he can endure it no longer. To remain here another day will push his mind over the edge. Compelled by his thirst, he must travel hundreds of miles to quench it. He is the sole occupant on a long and winding road, surrounded by trees on both sides; only the sound of the radio is evidence of his existence. Above the horizon yellow rays are first to burst on the scene, chasing away the fingers of darkness that cling to the sky, as the sun begins to climb to its zenith warming the air from the chill of the night. Rays of light are split into beams. They dodge the trees; causing a sequence of light and shadow to be cast upon the road, like a kaleidoscope twisting and turning showing the refraction of light and color.
The operatic song of the ocean lures him, beckons him, like a moth drawn to a flame. Nothing matters; he sees only endless waves on one side, a breaking crest and on the other side, and a steep valley that will soon disappear as the crest breaks leveling the plane once more.
With the sun at its peak, the tranquil setting is far behind. He is joined by a parade of cars each clamoring for space on the now busy highway. He skirts on the outer lane frequently passing a few cars, and then swiftly slips back into the sea of vehicles. The blasting heat, like a thermostat set at hell, is the catalyst that drives him forward. His thirst now beginning to bubble and rise to a rolling boil forces his foot to slightly accelerate the gas pedal. The relish sights and sounds of paradise that blaze in his mind will not stay tasty for long. There is no defense against the season’s changing mode. The Atlantic is fickle.
Relentlessly, he drives on with no regard for the temper tantrum the Atlantic may suddenly decide upon, like a child demanding to have its way, sometimes it must be ignored. Stopping halfway through his journey to quickly replenish, he continues towards paradise while the voice of the ocean sings to him steadily and softly, audible only to his ears.
The tantalizing detail of whipped froth floating on his ice frappe invade his mind with thoughts of ocean waves crashing spraying seafoam into the air, however, this image is no match for hot prickly heat now assaulting him with a vengeance. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, his surfboard is the counterattack against the assault grappling him with every mile. A tiny smile crosses his face as he continues his journey.
Slowly drifting on the breeze, the smell of the ocean starts to creep into his nostrils, like the call of Sirens, it grows stronger with each mile he drives. His heart begins to pound with anticipation that is almost irrepressible. He now begins to sweat uncontrollably and wipes his hands against his blue jeans shorts. The smell of salt and moisture replaces the prickly hot dry air. He inhales deeply; his sanity flowing back into him like streams of ribbons riding the wind. The last few miles seem to stretch into eternity. His foot press down on the gas pedal closing in on the last mile, he can’t get there fast enough.
The sound of squawking, screeching, and quarreling seagulls swooping through the air is the conformation of the culmination of his destiny. They glide to and fro riding the air currents, spying a morsel of food they dive bomb using their pirating skills to seize and gobble down their prize. Their triumphant voices ring through the sky. Suddenly, they part as if a curtain cord was pulled and the surfer emerges on the scene.
He stands motionless, rooted to the spot, holding a surfboard upright in one hand watching, waiting; calculating the opportunity to seize the perfect wave that comes crashing upon the shore. Like a snowball rolling downhill, expanding and gathering momentum, the next wave rolls in building intensity as the water stockpiles high. Suddenly the crest breaks, sending mountainous rolling waves tumbling upon each other, lashing out towards the shore, only to be pulled back into the ocean, leaving behind bits of seaweed and small pieces of driftwood. Lost in the bliss of his imagination; the rhythmic sound of the ocean wash over him sending his passion to new heights. Another wave brakes, crashing upon smaller waves sending a spray of mist that envelops him like a mummy wrapped in binding cloth. He narrows his eyes as the sand and salt stings and bites his skin, penetrating his hair, pores, and lips. The salt saturates the air around him, filling his nostrils with a smell that radiates throughout his entire body until it is on fire and only the spray of the ocean can extinguish it.
Another blue wave turns white, as it too suddenly breaks and explodes, sending a burst of fine grains into the air pelting his skin leaving nothing unwashed. Sand settles between his toes before being washed away only to settle there again. The stress of everyday life is swept away as the waves retreat into the hidden depths of the ocean. Another surge of spray sends more salt and sand accumulating in his hair and skin like tiny drops of morning dew that cling to each blade of grass. With each spray, the ocean beckons him to come and play, like a child splashing in a rain puddle. Still, he watches and waits, solely depending on instinct for the perfect timing.
The screech of a hawk is heard as he soars effortlessly on the warm thermal winds; his long broad wings perfect for gliding on air currents. He waits for exact timing to ghost into view and snatches his pray. His cunning and predatory instinct is powerful, like the waves that crash upon the shore. Armed with sharp binocular vision, he is able to zoom in on the smallest pray while in pursuit at high speed. Circling on the winds he spots his pray from above and waits for nature’s intuition to attack. His perception is keen his precision sharp. He circles lower and lower; his claws extend like a jet ejects its wheels for landing and with flawless skill, the hawk snatches his pray.
Scanning over the horizon he smiles a tiny smile, admiring the exquisite beauty of the sea and cliffs that kiss the sky. He knows that this moment will bore into his soul and stay there long after he leaves. Another thunderous wave brakes and rolls onto the shore; the surfer takes a few steps forward and hesitates, like the hawk, instinct tells him that his time has arrived. His dry season is now over, like the rumble of a train, another rolling wall of water comes to its peak and breaks. Taking a few more steps he readies his surfboard and peddles out past the breakers to greet the sun-kissed waves.