The shaft of light penetrated into the blue depths of the water below the man floating aimlessly, limbs spread to form the letter X. The water was warm, bathtub warm and the amount of salt made floating an effortless pastime.
Looking up he could see the almost cloudless sky and he chose not to turn his head to look at the high rugged mountains rising out of the sea. He considered floating to be more therapeutic than a massage and meditation combined. His weightless body no longer wracked with the pain of life that had entered the sea with him. It had floated away on the tide. He had no idea how long he had lain there, languidly floating in the viscous water. He didn’t care. He would stay there permanently if it meant that he didn’t have to return to that tortured being he had been only a few hours before.
Slowly, slowly he drifted. Eyes closed. Unaware. Carefree, relaxed.
Becoming aware that his buoyancy was not as absolute as it had been he spat out the mouthful of water that he had taken in as his body sank into the water. He was no longer floating. The water was cooler. He had to tread water to keep his head above water now. The waves were larger, the shard of light had gone as had the mountains, his link with the land. The realisation dawned on him with a quick awakening, he was at sea, alone.
Momentarily he panicked. He could feel that whitewash of fear move over him as his pulse quickened. I’m going to die, he thought as he started flailing in the water. “Conserve your energy, calm down, slowly, slowly.” He thought out loud. There was no-one around so there was no point screaming. No-one would miss him on shore. The last person that cared for him had told him she’d had enough and was returning on the first plane out that afternoon. So much for the tropical paradise holiday that was going to make everything all right. Why had he let work get on top of him. Who cared about work. It was she that mattered. Why did he have to be dying before he realised it.
Dying. Why not? What was there to live for? Why not just lie back and enjoy it. There was nothing on land to enjoy any more. He could feel himself relax as the idea took hold. His hands took on a rhythm of their own moving in a gathering in motion that kept him afloat, relaxed, almost calm. If only the water was as warm as that he floated in earlier, the experience would have been pleasant, almost comforting, like being in the womb, bathed by the life-protecting fluid.
He continued to float but as the sun went down so did the temperature of the water. Lower, lower, lower. It no longer felt safe and comforting. Although the moon shed a soft glow over the water so he was not totally in the dark he started to imagine the creatures lurking in the dark depths below him. He had not worried about these fish before but in the night the vision of them rose to greet him. Sharks with their smiling mouths showing all their razor-sharp teeth, long tentacled octopi reaching out and wrapping him in a strangulating embrace and jelly fish with their long stinging tails floating by envenomating him until he puffed up, in immense pain, no longer able to breathe.
The more he imagined these creatures the more difficult it became to control his breathing, his heart rate and his ability to sustain life-giving movement in the water. His body temperature was dropping and his teeth were chattering. At least shivering would keep him warm he rationalised. Wishing that the end would come quickly he again tried to calm himself. To be taken by a shark would be a blessing really. After the first bite he doubted he’d feel much. It would probably be like a chicken having its head cut off. Unaware of anything until the blood finally, quickly pumped its way out of his body and he would slip into oblivion. Beautiful oblivion. No need to drown his sorrows then. He laughed out loud. Drown his sorrows. He was doing just that but not with a bottle. Oh what he wouldn’t give for a bottle of rum. Overproof preferably. It’d not only warm him up but make his passing even more pleasant.
I can end this so easily. I just have to stop moving my arms and let the ocean envelop me. It’ll be quick and be such a release. No-one’ll know what’s happened to me. She’ll feel guilty when she knows I’ve disappeared. Yes that is what I’m going to do.
He returned to the position in the water he had started in. His arms and legs stretched out forming an X. He was going to give in to it as he slowly sank but he didn’t sink. He was floating and then he noticed that the water was again tepid. Gingerly he put a foot down into the depths only to discover that he was in shallow water as his toes met sand.
Dam, he thought. He didn’t know whether to be pleased or angry that the current had returned him to his starting point. He had been looking forward to the end but had he really wanted to end it. What he did want to end was the stress that he was under at work. It was that pressure that led to the destruction of the life he had wanted for himself and her. He slowly stood. He would return on the next plane and resign. The rest of the holiday he’d spend looking for a new job. He sighed. His island holiday had given him the answer he needed and he couldn’t wait to put it into action.
© irene waters 2014 (992 words)