Her top was off already and she was now removing her jeans. Strangely her red cap and sunglasses continued to stay on. As the she stood up and folded her jeans carefully into her bag, she paused to take a sip from her can of Diet Coke. He meanwhile wondered whether it was wise to drink anything before the activity. It certainly didn’t seem like the right thing to do, no matter how cool it looked on a Spanish girl in black swimwear.
‘Have I worn this right? This won’t come off would it?’ asked a visibly concerned N to D, adjusting his life jacket.
D, unusually alert, stared at N first, then, at Him and then at the other passengers on the boat. ‘Something doesn’t feel right dude. Check with the instructor once.’
He looked down at his life jacket. It seemed alright but perhaps a little too tight for his liking and that, as always one strap seemed unusually longer than the other. As He adjusted the straps, he walked around towards the deck. They had anchored right in the middle of the ocean for a while now. It was a beautiful day and the temperature felt pleasant although the instructors kept saying that the water would be a tad cold. The water was blue and clean: Almost as though He could see right through to the sea bed. They had reached the diving spot finally; five hours since they started from Miami that morning.
Key West, an island city in Florida, had been very touristy so far. With it’s cruise boats, its white wooden houses, churches and tourist laden trains. Everyone was friendly, the pizza parlour owner, the drivers, the shopkeepers. Almost everyone had a version of history that they wanted Him to hear. The Hemingway house, the southernmost point in the US, fancy named restaurants and strip clubs and spectacularly cleans streets. Very touristy and a tad pretentious He thought to himself as he clicked his way through the town.
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As he floated along the surface, with his head in the clear blue water, he gazed at the multi-coloured corals below. They looked amazing. How were they so beautiful? Were they really alive? Could they sense him floating above? Why was the water so clear? So many questions had popped up in his mind as he entered the water earlier. He even had wanted to identify the different corals he had read up on the chart, from back on the boat. But none of them mattered to him anymore. Not here. Not now.
As he lay there floating, his body suddenly stiffened as it sensed a movement. A barracuda casually swam a few feet beneath him, least bothered about the foreign organism in the environment. That was a first, He thought to himself.
As he turned right, he noticed a school of fishes headed his way. He tried to move and give way, but the fishes were already next to him. In a moment, as though realising that this new animal was unfamiliar with the rules of underwater travel, the school split and the fishes swam around Him. Surrounded for a moment, in slow motion, as though in a dream, He stretched his right hand further, to perhaps, feel them. But they merely swam past his lingering fingers, further ahead on their journey. Still dreamy, He felt surreal.
Someone yelled. Adjusting his mask, He looked up from the water to see who it might be. In the distance, some people on the boat were waving at him signalling to return. He waved back at them, tilted his head into the water and swam back towards the boat; having forgotten about the whereabouts of his friends or the spanish girl with the red cap.