A Micro Fiction: Salt Water
The blue stretches out before me, deceptively cloudy once submerged. Though from above it looks crystal clear and blue, beneath the waves, there is an otherworldly feel to the depths. Depths that began as shallows and slowly grow deeper and cooler, gliding over my skin like a soft, cold, kiss.
Below me bright flashes of colour catch in the filtered sunlight, darting off before I can fully catch them in my sight. The faint click of the disposable camera echoes through the water. I roll the dial back, concentrating, trying to ignore the tangy, bitterness that creeps around my snorkel and settles in my mouth. No matter how much I readjust, the taste never leaves. It makes my teeth clench around the soft rubber piece in my mouth as I work on keeping my breathing even.
Further out we go. More bright flashes of colour. Some small and tiny, whisking away in schools; others bigger and more defensive.
Speckled with blue and purple strips, one determined fish swims right at us, warding us off his territory. I click the camera, and it whirs as I wind it forward, preparing for the small creature to make it’s return trip.
Larger fish, longer than my arm, swim in lazy grey circles in the cloudy distance, drifting in and out of view. The water becomes deeper. Far below, a giant shell beckons. It’s larger than the fish, larger than me, even. It’s faded and bleached and lies in two pieces. A colossal fossil lying on the sea bed. I struggle to keep my breathing even, taken back by it’s magnitude. There’s a strange sense of overwhelming wonder, and I stare, captured by this relic of the ocean.
My view fogs over. More shallow breathing. My heart rate quickens as I turn my head, trying to focus on something below. No use, my vision is encased in fog.
The air is as salty as the water. I breathe in deep gulps, staring about at how far we’ve come. A snorkel pokes up out of the water not a metre away, still trailing about in lazy arcs.
My legs work to keep me afloat, pumping double time as I pull the goggles loose, wincing as they tangle in my hair. Strands come loose, caught within the straps. A quick rinse, a bit of spit. A deep breath and another wince or three as the goggles go back on. Pressing down on the front so the rubber sticks, suctioning onto my skin—almost too tight and yet comforting in the near pain.
More salt. My legs are not used to this endless tread, and I dip too low. Water over my mouthpiece and in my mouth. My nose wrinkles. I spit salt and long for fresh water. Back at the shore is safety and warmth and water and food. But out here, there is more to be discovered. More clam shells, more bright fish, and turtles. There are turtles out here.
I take a deep breath, and put the snorkel back between my teeth, and delve back into the cool blue water.