The prompt, “Water gives life.” or “Water takes it away.”
I blew the 600 word count.
It is what it is.
The sun glinted off the crystal clear blue water. It blinded her deep chocolate eyes. She quickly lowered the large plastic mask onto her face, covered her eyes and nose, its suction tight against her tawny skin. One of the black rubber fins rubbed against her toe with every kick of her foot, the friction uncomfortable.
She placed the snorkel in her mouth, took a few practiced breaths and placed her face into the water, it slapped at her ears, muffled chatter and laughter, her breaths loud and raspy in her head, a perfect seal. Teams of fish, silvery bright, darted through coral of different shades and textures. Stunning. She lifted her face from the water, popped the snorkel out of her mouth to speak.
“Isn’t this fabulous?” Her vision blurred from the dive mask, but his light gray swim shirt buzzed dark brown hair and the bright red sunburn of his forehead gave Deklan away.
“Did you see that baby shark?” He pointed excitedly over near the rock face of the island, sheer and dark, next to the buoyed lines that marked the perimeter of the snorkel site.
“I’m going to go look. I told you snorkeling was going to be amazing here.”
She placed the black rubber into her mouth, trying to block out the taste of chewed tires and swam over to try and find the shark. She couldn’t see it, so many brilliantly colored fish, but no shark. She popped to the surface to tread water, took the tube out of her mouth to breathe the fresh air. Her feet strained against the fins, her arms felt heavy and tired already.
“I’m tired, going to head back to the boat.” She called to him.
“You know I don’t swim that well!”
Snorkel in mouth, she plunged under the surface, one last look at the fish as she made her way towards the side of the boat. She kicked her legs together, as if she were a mermaid and smiled inwardly. She remembered doing the same when she was a young girl in her grandparent’s pool during the summer.
She climbed aboard the ship, the metal ladder made more difficult as the unforgiving fins slapped against each rung. A sun-kissed Maui native grabbed her hand to help her up.
“Thanks.” Her radiant smile caused him to smile back.
“Done already?” He asked, his tone playful.
“I don’t swim very well and this fin is killing my toe!” She pointed at her left foot and grimaced, more for show, though it did hurt.
“I can get you a different pair of fins and we have plenty of noodles if you want one.”
She flip-flopped over to an open seat and took off the fins to reveal an angry red cut edged in white wrinkled skin, rubbed raw on the small toe next to her big one.
“Ouch, that hurts. Let me get you a band-aid.” His abs perfection, he went to get the first-aid kit.
“Thanks.” She looked down at her perfect cleavage and smiled. Thankful she wore the scarlet swimsuit. It suited the boobs. It didn’t hurt to look sexy.
He brought over a new set of fins and antiseptic. It burned as he placed it on the jagged cut before he covered it with the band-aid.
“We’re leaving here soon and going over to see if we can find some sea turtles. The water is choppier there, you should bring a noodle if you go out.”
“Thanks for the tip and the band-aid.” She winked at him.
“No problem.” He smiled back and then left her on the side of the ship, against the railing. She watched the others in the group make their way back to the boat and the fish dart around underneath the water as the sun beat down upon her shoulders.
“Hey beautiful!” Deklan’s arms wrapped around her from behind, his wet swim shirt cooled her baked skin.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” The boat picked up speed, away from Molokini in the direction of darker waters.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s truly amazing.” He kissed the nape of her neck and they watched the plush green island on the horizon become closer, the water sprayed white as it boat cut through it.
“I might sit this one out.” She stifled a yawn.
“Are you sure you want to miss the turtles?” He frowned slightly.
She sighed as the boat came to a stop and dropped anchor at the new location.
“No, I don’t want to miss it.” She put the new fins on, her toe still tender beneath the rubber and grabbed her dive mask and snorkel as the crew warned the group about the choppier water.
Deklan got in first as one of the crew tried to hand her a noodle to float on. She declined with the knowledge that she wouldn’t be in the water for long and made the awkward climb down the ladder and into the salty sea.
Her mask in place she swam towards him but the water was much rougher than she anticipated. Waves slapped, crested around her, the sea rolled beneath her as she struggled toward Deklan.
Her arms and legs fought against the water, to keep her afloat as she paddled like a dog towards him, exhausted after a few minutes she stopped to tread water and gain her bearings.
She was equidistant between Deklan and the boat and the more she tread, her limbs felt heavy and sluggish, the waves pushed her against her will. He was oblivious to her predicament as he searched the water for turtles, enthralled with the experience.
I’m going to drown.
She started again towards the boat and cursed herself for not heeding the advice of the sexy crewmember. She should have gotten a noodle.
Her muscles strained against the water, her breath ragged in her ears, the snorkel still in place and yet it seemed as though she made no progress at all.
She slipped under the sea, water clogged her snorkel, she held her breath as the panic settled deep inside her chest, her heart pumped in rapid succession, charged with adrenaline and fear.
Spit the harsh rubber from her mouth, ripped the mask from her face and gulped in the precious air, her arms circled the water, each arc reached toward the boat as her fins pushed against the water, the cut on her toe throbbed, her muscles ached.
She slipped under again, caught by surprise.
Her eyes shut tight against the water. It filled her nose. Her mouth shut tight too late, swallowed salt water, choked on it, the bubbles escaped to freedom at the surface.
A freedom she had lost.