Surfing Self-Help

flash fiction, bookstore, Kauai, Talk Story BookstoreWhere is it? Where IS it? Sue kept asking herself this question as she perused the self-help aisle of her favorite independent bookstore. I know it must be here. They have nearly everything.

What Sue didn’t realize was that she was talking to herself out loud.

“Um, excuse me. Can I help?”

The velvety deep voice of the brown-skinned man standing near Sue jolted her like a soft cottony stick probing a sore tooth.flower, Hawaiian flower, Kauai, hyacinth

“What?” Sue exclaimed as if the man had just asked her a much too personal question. But really, just look at him, she said to herself. Ten years her junior, soft brown eyes that perused her face as if he was looking at a delicate flower. Wearing navy blue shorts that seemed more bathing suit than shorts. A blue t-shirt that caressed his chest and muscled arms just a bit too tightly. Humph.

But still. No reason to be rude to the man, who looked a bit familiar to Sue. Did he work at one of the resorts around here? In fact, maybe he was a scuba diver, or captained the whale watching boats, or… she decided to strike up some courage into her introverted self and just ask, but he jumped in first.

book, writing, love, from the heart“I’m Joe. I was raised here. I went to school with the bookstore owner’s kid and used to stock the shelves. So I promise you, if you’re looking for a particular book, I can find it for you.” Joe’s smile was as wide as the ocean surrounding the island, and his eyes sparkled as if his greatest pleasure would be to give Sue pleasure.

She squeezed her fingertips together and chastised herself for the thought.

“You look familiar,” she replied. “I’ve only been living here for five months. Best decision I ever made, considering what’s going on, on the mainland. Not that we don’t have to ‘stay in place’ here, but who wouldn’t want to stay in place in paradise?” Sue was babbling, but something about the way Joe looked at her encouraged her to open up. “Every morning I see locals surfing – as soon as the sunrises! – and I figured that maybe I could find a book that, you know…” surfing, Pixabay

He finished for her. “You want a self-help book on surfing?” His incredulous expression embarrassed her.

“Well, when you say it like that…” She turned her back on his insouciance.

“No, I didn’t mean it that way.” Joe touched her shoulder, and Sue turned back toward him. “I’m Dr. Joe. We met the first week you moved here ….”

Sue’s face turned redder than last night’s sunset. “That’s right! You’re Dr. Joe, the surfing doctor. Thank goodness I got to you by 12:50 that afternoon, because the sign on the door said ‘Gone surfing – Closed 1-4 p.m.’ ” Sue’s expression turned dour.

“How’s your kidney stone?” he asked, his voice gentle.

“Gone, thanks to you,” she conceded.

“So.” Dr. Joe’s eyes skimmed the books in front of Sue. “I suggest you’d learn easier with a real surfing instructor. Are you free tomorrow, at 2?”

Sue realized she’d just found the perfect self to help her.

Kauai, Kauai beach, surfing

Prompt: Write about searching through the self-help aisle.

122 thoughts on “Surfing Self-Help

    • The idea of the surfing doctor originated with a ‘true story’ when our son and his girlfriend visited us once in Kauai and she immediately got sick. We found the closest medical clinic but the doctor was “out surfing.” Fortunately he returned in time to help so she could enjoy the rest of the visit.

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  1. Very romantic, Pam. I wouldn’t mind being locked down in paradise with a warm sunny beach and a bookstore. I might even try surfing with Dr. Joe. Lol. A lovely story with a happy and clever ending. Thanks for the smile, my friend. ❤

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    • Haha. Love your sense of humor. I don’t know where the ‘surfing self-help’ idea came from (my mind springs weird things on me). But I know my favorite self-help book was “Puppy Training for Dummies.” 🙂

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  2. I didn’t see that coming. Wowza, Pam!

    So many admirable points here: 1. Using the word “insouciance” so adroitly. 2. Romantic and “twisty” too, hard to pull off unless you are an expert writer.

    Happy weekend, m’ dear! Laze in the sun and watch sunsets, if you can . . . 😀

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    • No lazin’ here, I say insouciantly. Haha. Do I get extra extra credits for that?
      Isn’t it neat when words all of a sudden crop up in our stories and we can pat ourselves on the back? But in truth, I never would’ve thought of “insouciance.” That was all Sue’s doing. 😁🌴🙏


  3. Ah this is a good one… on so many levels. Certainly made me smile and then chuckle at the ending. I could really relate to her embarrassment of the non recognition. I am not good with faces.. meaning that I often do not recognize someone I may have met when I see them later, especially when it is out of context, such as in your well executed story.


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    • I’m the same way, Peta. I just learned recently there’s a name for this (difficulty with facial recognition). One of my blogging friends has this condition to the extreme – she doesn’t remember the next DAY, much less months later!

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  4. Hi Pam, You remind me about the concept how ‘we can’t judge a book by it’s cover’ and how this also applies to people. Then, the ending. Oh, my, my. My heart skipped a beat. Inappropriate thoughts for a 60+ woman? I need all the help I can get. Hee hee 😅

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    • I think the older we get, the more acceptable it is to have “inappropriate thoughts,” Erica. We just don’t say them out loud. Haha. I do get my back up at the generational/cultural idea that we women ‘of a certain age and older’ have no desires or longings or passion. I think I might have to come up with some more romances of ‘older women’ in the future. 🙂

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    • I must admit, I enjoy writing warm and sweet stories, Liesbet. I imagined this taking place on one of the Hawaiian islands, but it could be any island in the tropics. We can use our imagination. 🙂

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  5. What a romantic story, Pam. When he said, “I’m Dr. Joe.” I was surprised why he introduced himself again, but it was quite a build-up and clear turns of your story. I liked that very much!

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  6. Romance and kidney stones in one fabulous story? Clever, Pam, and only you can put these together to create a smile at the end (and maybe a sigh, too). Even though I’m in another kind of paradise, sheltering in Hawaii sounds heavenly. And so happy Sue found the self-help she needed. 😉

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