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Soul Surfer Series
By Rick Bundschuh, Bethany Hamilton
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2007 Bethany Hamilton
All rights reserved.
Dawn crept over the jagged green mountains, and the sunlight slid into the bedroom window of fourteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton.
Bethany groaned, pulling the sheets up over her head as the light bounced off the polished surface of the trophies and mementos that lined her walls.
Her room, like her spirit, reflected the ocean.
Small bottles of shells, collected season after season, sat on the shelf. The size and beauty of them showed progress from a toddler, scooping up tiny treasures from the sand, to a young girl with mask and snorkel, snatching up larger, rarer specimens from their home on the reef, and finally, to a world traveler, bringing home exotic shells from beaches all around the world.
Her CDs, stacked willy-nilly on the shelf and spilling onto the floor, had titles that showed a taste for not only surf-saturated sounds but also for Christian rock.
On a hook near the door hung a selection of bathing suits, each different in color and style but all bearing the logo of Rip Curl, the surf clothing manufacturer that long ago had spotted the girl's talent and made sure that she had plenty of their product to wear as she surfed.
"Come on, Bethany," a voice, still full of sleep, mumbled from near the floor. "I hear the surf calling us."
"We stayed up way too late last night," Bethany's muffled voice protested from under the sheets.
"There wasn't any school to get up for this morning."
"I never have to get up for school in the morning," Bethany said.
There was a short pause, and then the voice on the floor replied, "That's because you're a home-school geek!"
Bethany dropped the sheets and grinned. "Malia, you're just jealous because you have to climb on that sweaty ol' schoolbus that I drive by on my way to surf every morning."
Suddenly, the room exploded with a flurry of flying pillows as the two girls batted at one another and squealed in mock pain and laughter.
In the midst of the battle, the door burst open and Ginger, Bethany's Shar-Pei dog, flew into the fray, barking and jumping up and down. Both girls laughed even harder.
Breathing hard, the pillow fight soon calmed down. Moments later, Bethany's mom, Cheri, popped her head around the corner.
"It's about time you sleepyheads woke up. I've had breakfast ready for a while now—thought you two would be on dawn patrol."
"Malia made me stay up and watch Master and Commander again. She's in love with one of the lieutenants."
"I'm sure she had to force you," said Cheri Hamilton with a twinkle in her eye. "Malia, how was the futon?"
"Awesome! But Mrs. Hamilton—did you know Bethany snores?"
"I do not!" protested Bethany.
"You do too!" Malia grinned.
With that, the pillow war started up again.
"Come on, girls, breakfast is waiting. If you don't hurry, Tim will eat it all," Mrs. Hamilton said. "And don't forget to turn off the fans. Our electric bills are high enough as it is."
"Sure, Mom," Bethany said in between swats with a pillow.
Within a few minutes, the girls emerged from the bedroom, giggling: Bethany, tall and lanky with a snarled tangle of sun-bleached hair, and Malia, small and thin-boned, with thick black hair and oval-shaped eyes that gave hint to an Asian background. Two normal girls. The only thing that would attract the attention of a stranger would be the empty left sleeve of Bethany's T-shirt.
It was still strange how in one moment in time—one blink of an eye—her life had changed forever. The fourteen-foot shark that attacked her had quickly severed her left arm, taking a massive bite out of her board before he swam off, leaving her to die. But God had other plans for Bethany.
Bleeding severely from the traumatic wound, a quarter-mile offshore and forty-five minutes from the nearest hospital, Bethany had been blessed by the quick work and calm heads of the Blanchard family—Alana, Byron, and their dad Holt—who "just happened" to be there at the moment she needed someone to save her life.
Soon after that came the media firestorm, and Bethany's close scrape with death was splashed over every television station and newspaper. But it was her remarkable spirit, coupled with a genuine faith in God, that kept her in the media spotlight, not as a tragic story but as a model of determination and courage.
Within a month of the attack, Bethany overcame her fears and surfed again. Not only did she relearn the art of surfing, but she went on to win contests.
Bethany's mom made allowances for her daughter's handicap: oranges and bananas were peeled and the bread was cut before the girls came to the table. But for Bethany, the loss of an arm provided only a temporary challenge for most things and a change of activity or choices for other ones.
Tying shoelaces with one hand was difficult and time-consuming. Bethany had already spent most of her life barefoot or wearing inexpensive rubber sandals, but now any shoes or boots she would need to purchase had to be put through the "can-I-do-this-with-one-hand?" test. Slip-ons worked best. Velcro straps performed the job as well.
Tackling simple tasks such as peeling a giant jabon—a grapefruit-type fruit that grows all over Hawaii—was performed by sitting on the floor, holding the fruit between her bare feet, and tearing into the thick skin with her right hand.
For surfing, Bethany had made one compensation: a handle attached to the deck of the surfboard gave her a head start to get to her feet. By losing an arm, she'd lost the ability to use the push-up grasp surfers use to hang onto the surfboard when diving deep enough to get under the crushing water of a broken wave.
The girls had finished their breakfast by the time Bethany's older brother Tim, the second in the line of three siblings, came stumbling from his room.
"Bethany," Tim said groggily, "you didn't leave any for me!"
"Snooze, you lose," Bethany shot back.
"There's more on the counter." Their mother grinned, shaking her head. "Juice is in the fridge."
"Oh, and Tim," Bethany added playfully, "last one up has to do dishes. Bye!"
And with that, the girls giggled and darted from the table. "We're ready to go, Mom!"
"Not until you put away the futon and straighten your room," Mom said, evoking a grin from Tim.
Within minutes, the chores were done and Bethany and Malia were in the garage, pulling their surfboards from their resting places against the wall.
"Whatcha think, Bethany?" Malia said. "The Bay? Pine Trees? Chicken Wings? Rock Quarry?"
"I'm not sure," Bethany said, chewing her bottom lip. "I didn't check the surf report this morning, but I bet my mom did."
"I wish my mom and dad surfed," Malia said.
Bethany grinned. "Noah says we were all born with saltwater in our veins."
Malia laughed. "Sounds like something your brother would say."
"North, northeast swell—four to six feet," Mrs. Hamilton announced as she came around the corner. "My bet is on Kalihiwai, especially with the tide at this hour."
Both girls grinned at each other.
"Let's go! I love that wave, and it's one of the best barrels on the island," Bethany said excitedly. Then she noticed her friend's hesitation. "You okay with that, Malia?"
"Sure," Malia said, trying to sound more confident than she felt.
Bethany sensed her friend's uneasiness and reached for Malia's hand.
"Malia, you can do it! Even though you're a goofy foot like me and this is a big right, you still have an advantage. At least you can grab your rail with your left hand. I gotta pull in real tight to make it, so we'll both be working at it."
Malia brightened at the encouragement.
It was fun surfing with Bethany. She always made it fun. It wasn't about who was better, bigger, braver, stronger, or more fluid. It was mostly about having fun and enjoying what God had provided: the warm sun, the crystal-clear water, the turtles darting along the cliffs, and the crisp tubing waves.
"Don't forget, girls," Mrs. Hamilton cheerfully reminded them, "the best surfer in the water isn't the one who's ripping the hardest, it's the one who's having the most fun!"
Both girls looked at each other and then back to Bethany's mom. "Ancient surf wisdom," she added gravely, and they all laughed.
With that, Mrs. Hamilton slid behind the wheel of her minivan packed with surfboards, and the two girls piled into the van, followed by Ginger.
"Hope you don't mind if I stop by the bank on the way," Cheri said as she backed out of the driveway and saw Bethany's frown in the rearview mirror.
"Mom! The bank isn't even open this early," Bethany said impatiently, wanting to get to the beach.
"The ATM is always open, Bethany," Cheri said—and Bethany saw her mom's frown in the rearview mirror. Not good. Cheri opened her mouth to say something else, but Malia beat her to the punch ... with something that sounded like a growl.
"What—" Cheri started.
"Sorry, Mom!" Bethany said, suddenly contrite, and then she and Malia grinned at each other, pleased with their new code.
"Okay ... so what was the growl for?"
"Aslan," Malia announced, as if that would explain everything. Both girls laughed, seeing Mrs. Hamilton's confused expression.
"We were talking about the Chronicles of Narnia books last night," Bethany explained. "I told Malia it would be cool if God could roar at us like Aslan to let us know if we did something wrong—"
"So, I offered to roar at Bethany if she does something wrong," Malia added. "And she offered to roar at me if I do something wrong."
"Ah," Cheri said, "that sounds like the mark of a true friendship!"
Bethany nodded, glancing shyly at Malia as her mom pulled into the shopping center. She was a true friend—even if it didn't bother her to hit the waves late as much as it did Bethany. She watched her mom head for the ATM, while Malia scrambled across the lot to get some lip balm.
"Take your time," Bethany called after Malia with a mischievous grin. "We're only missing perfect waves!" She tilted her car seat back as far as it would go and leaned back so the warm sun and soft trade winds could blow across her face. All she needed now was her board and a wave.
That's when she heard the fight.
"You don't care!" a girl's voice shouted in the clear morning air.
"I do care," an older woman's voice replied. Not quite as loudly, but clearly perturbed.
"If you really cared about me, you would've never done it. You would've never made me move here!"
Bethany felt an uncomfortable feeling wash over her, and she sank lower in her seat. She didn't want to hear what was going on, but it was hard not to. Way too loud to block it out, that's for sure.
"You don't care if I'm happy! All you care about is if he's happy!" yelled the girl.
Mother/daughter feud, no doubt about it.
"Look, life has been stressful for me too," the mother shot back. "I'm doing the best I can to satisfy everyone, but you—you're never satisfied!"
The young voice rose another octave.
"Oh, sure! You were thinking about my feelings the whole time. Like you cared that I had to leave my horse, like you cared that I had to leave my friends, like you cared that you made us sell everything to come here! You're nothing more than a self-centered ..." And then she used a swear word on her mother. In fact, she unleashed a torrent of horrible words on her mother.
The Hamilton kids had always been taught to respect and honor their parents—even if they disagreed with them. And while Bethany knew that from time to time she could get a little sarcastic—like this morning with the diversion to the bank before going surfing—to truly show disrespect at the level that was coming from the car nearby was unthinkable.
It was a firm family rule.
The voices in the other car scrambled together as the mother returned the verbal abuse, and the argument ended with both parties yelling and swearing at each other at the top of their lungs.
Bethany considered for a moment showing herself by sliding up into her seat when, suddenly, they stopped shouting. A car started, and Bethany raised her head slowly to catch a glimpse at the brawlers.
She only managed to catch the back end of an older-model tan sedan with a broken taillight speeding away.
"Unbelievable!" Bethany muttered.
A few moments later, her mom appeared at the car door. "Okay! Let's go surfing!" "Malia isn't back yet," said Bethany with a distracted frown.
Then the slap of flip-flops could be heard as Malia ran to the car.
"Sorry, sorry!" she said. "I got behind a guy who paid for all his stuff with change."
"Excuses, excuses," Bethany said teasingly, then turned back to her mom. "Mom, what would you do if Noah, Tim, or I ever swore at you?"
"First, I would cry," said her mother.
"I'd cry because I would be hurt by your lack of respect."
"Oh," Bethany said softly with a side glance at Malia, but her best friend was turned, looking out the window.
"And then I would tell your father," said Cheri. "And then you would cry." Bethany's mother smiled.
"Ah!" Bethany said. "Then it would be Ivory soap time."
"A full diet of Ivory soap, followed by restriction to your room until you're eighteen, and hours of slave labor—oh, and surfboards hacked to pieces."
"You mean you wouldn't pull off my fingernails too?" Bethany laughed.
"Honestly, I don't know what your father would do," her mother said. "But I'm sure it would cure the situation once and for all. Why? Are you thinking of cussing me out?"
"No, I just overheard some girl cursing at her mom, and it kinda made me sick to my stomach. I just don't get families that do stuff like that." She glanced at Malia, who appeared to be thinking hard about all that was being said.
"We've taught you well, thank God. It should bother you. Who was it? Someone we know?"
"We don't know them," Bethany said and then wrinkled her nose. "I don't think I want to, either."
Malia didn't say a word, which seemed odd to Bethany. Instead, Malia turned and looked back out the window. But not before Bethany had caught the troubled look on her friend's face.
Excerpted from Clash by Rick Bundschuh, Bethany Hamilton. Copyright © 2007 Bethany Hamilton. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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