Will You?

By Mathieu Cailler

Today I surfed in Manhattan Beach, just north of the pier. It was daybreak and the sky was timid with the coming dawn. A man—with short hair and a long beard—paddled out next to me. It was just the two of us.

Suddenly, a perfect wave appeared. You mind? he asked.

I told him to have at it, and I watched him ride with such ease, as if he were the salt, the foam, the crash. Bottom turns, tube ride, foam climbs—it was flawless.

Soon after, he paddled up next to me and flashed his perfect smile. I asked him how he got so good at surfing, and he told me that he was God. I laughed. He said he was serious and to ask him anything, and so I did. I asked him as many questions as there were waves that day, and he answered them perfectly.

Near dusk, before he surfed his last wave of the day, I told him I was going to tell everyone I knew about this day, and he said that everyone says that and no one ever believes them. And I have. And no one ever has.

Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, including PANK, The Saturday Evening Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival Prize. To learn more, please visit mathieucailler.com or find him on social media @writesfromla.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital Acrylic Drawing)

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