Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day tsunami tore through their beach resort in Thailand. Just days after forming a life-changing bond, both were missing and presumed dead. Unbeknown to each other and haunted by one of the biggest natural disasters in world history, Isla and Ben are living very different lives, until over a decade later when a chance encounter throws them back together.
Based on real life events, The Day of the Wave is a story of healing, learning to let go, and figuring out when to hold on with everything you have left.
‘Don’t I have to get a boat, if I go over to Phi Phi?’ I say.
‘Well, yeah, it’s an island.’
I bite my lip, watch the water drip from Ben’s hair onto his shoulder blades. Coming here was one thing; going to Phi Phi too, that was never part of the plan. ‘I’m not sure I can go on a boat,’ I say and he shakes his head at me.
‘You’ve already been on the beach, Izzy. You stepped in the water. You rode a scooter! Come on, you can ride a speedboat. It’s not even that far. It’s less than an hour from Phuket.’
‘All valid points, but…’
‘Focus on the prize. You’ll feel great for riding the boat, like I know you do about the bike. And you need to catch this asshole, Alan,’ he says, ‘get your passport back. And your notebook! You need the notebook to finish your book.’
‘I need it to start my book,’ I admit as Justin lets out a Tarzan cry and crashes into the waterfall pool again. ‘Ben, what if it’s not even him who took my stuff? Or what if he leaves the island and we can’t find him?’
‘What if, what if, what if,’ he teases. ‘What if the cops on Phi Phi keep an eye on him? They will, Izzy, trust me, they love this stuff. Catching dumb tourists out, it’s their favorite thing.’
I laugh. I can’t help it now. I can see that sixteen-year-old-Ben again; the way he was when we met. There was always another adventure ahead. Something else exciting. In just eight days Ben managed to turn my holiday into a trip through some kind of magical wonderland. I can feel my resolve weakening already. My life is so boring now. Boring and safe and gray. I think of Colin again. One shade of gray. It’s all been very far from fifty, actually.
‘What about Kalaya? Will she come?’ I say, feigning indifference. My stomach knots as I say it but I already know she wouldn’t exactly be thrilled about us going off to an island together on some mission.
‘I’ll ask her,’ Ben says. I can’t read his voice.
‘What are you guys plotting over here?’ Justin says, walking back over to us from the water. He drops himself down on his haunches, pulls the bottle of water back out of his backpack and swigs it back. It drips down his chin.
‘The police found a guy on Phi Phi who might have Izzy’s stuff,’ Ben tells him.
‘Really? I’m heading there next, are you heading over there?’
‘I think so.’
‘Is your girlfriend going with you?’ he asks Ben. ‘Or did you forget you had one?’
We both snap our heads to him at the exact same time. Justin laughs, screws the bottle top back on and shoves it with his shirt back into his backpack. ‘Come on mate, I can see two people falling when they’re right in front of me.’
I make a choking sound. ‘Falling… what…’
‘In luuuurve. Any more sparks between you and you’d be starting a bloody forest fire. I hope it rains if you do… it’s too fuggin’ hot as it is. Right, I’m going now.’
‘I’m heading back, I need a nanny nap,’ he says, getting up. ‘I’ll see you lovebirds later. Thanks for the tour.’
We both watch him leave. My cheeks are blazing hotter than ever. I stare at the waterfall and so does Ben and neither of us says anything for ages. Awkward, awkward, awkward.
‘You know what?’ I say eventually, getting to my feet. ‘I do want to jump off those rocks.’
‘Really?’ Ben springs up after me.
‘Yes, I’m going to do it.’
‘Well, wait, I’ll come with you!’
‘Come on then.’
He follows me back up to the wet, grassy ledge, clambering up rock after rock after rock till we’re as high as we can get. I look out at the croaking, chirruping landscape and down at the water. He takes my fingers as I walk to the edge and take a deep breath. ‘OK, Izzy, are you sure about this?’
‘Then on the count of three,’ he says. ‘One… Two…’
‘Three!’ I yell. And with Ben’s hand holding mine, I’m falling.
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