#11 My New Endeavor
I’m sorry I haven’t added any new posts lately, but I’ve been working on a new endeavor ~ actually, two new endeavors, if I’m going to be perfectly honest. I enjoy reading fiction, but my published articles to date have all been non-fiction. I decided to spread my wings and make the transition! I now have a novella and a full-length novel that will soon be available on Amazon. I am posting the first chapter of my very first story, “Saving Serena,” here ~ if you’d like to read the entire thing, check back in a few weeks. It should be up on Amazon by then.
The calm, sun-dappled water surrounding the dive boat suddenly erupted with leaping, playful dolphins, the bright, late morning sunlight glinting off their wet bodies. All twelve divers squealed with excited anticipation. Each of us had longed for an opportunity to swim with the intelligent, curious animals, so when the easy-going captain threw up his hands, chuckled at our reaction, and laughingly hollered, “Okay! Okay! Go!” we grabbed our fins and leaped back into the water.
The sea closed over my head as I scanned the blue for their sleek, graceful forms, their sonar clicks and whistles seeming to come from all directions. Immediately, though, I knew something was wrong. Kicking fairly hard, I still descended much more rapidly than I should have. I groaned.
As the last diver to climb back aboard the boat following our fifty-minute dive this morning, I hadn’t shed all of my gear before the dolphins appeared. In my excitement, I had leaped back into the water, still wearing mask, snorkel, and fins – and a ten pound lead weight belt.
Reluctant to send over a hundred dollars-worth of gear to the bottom of the ocean without trying to resolve the problem, I kicked harder, hoping I could reach the boat and grab the lowest ladder rung without having to release the belt. I made progress and frantically gulped air at the surface before water closed over my head again.
I was tiring. The combined effort of holding my breath and kicking forcefully enough to move upward and closer to the boat were taking their toll. I determined to make one last-ditch effort to reach the ladder. Then it was “Adios” to the weight belt.
Okay, I was nearly there. I could see the ladder only a few feet ahead and above me. One powerful kick should get me close enough to grab the lowest rung.
As I lunged upward, one arm raised above my head to reach for the ladder, the boat rose lazily on a large swell and dropped heavily into the trough. Unfortunately, my lunge had positioned me directly underneath the back corner of the stern. The ladder rung hit my raised arm sharply, snapping the bone cleanly just below the elbow; the boat’s impact with my skull drove my body deep below the surface.
Sometime later, my eyes sprang open to see blue water… and more blue water. I clawed and kicked and struggled and gasped for air, trying desperately to make my way to the surface, although it was now hopelessly distant. As my heart beat a wild rhythm and adrenaline surged through my veins, my uncooperative right arm sent piercing daggers of pain up my shoulder. But other than that, I realized I wasn’t uncomfortable. Logic slowly replaced fear and the waves of overwhelming panic began to recede. I held the injured limb against my body and assessed the situation. Was I dead? This certainly wasn’t how I’d pictured Heaven – or Hell, for that matter.
But if I wasn’t dead, what was going on? I strove to make sense of things as I forced myself to calm down. Drifting slowly in the gentle current, I noticed the weight belt was gone and assumed I had yanked it free in the struggle. Regardless, I was deep enough now that I didn’t need the weights to remain submerged. That last ill-fated lunge toward the boat ladder flashed before my eyes. I grimaced as I clearly remembered the need for air and the burning in my lungs, my leg muscles straining as they delivered that last desperate kick, and the stark white of the boat’s stern as it rushed toward me. Everything was blank after that. A steady throb emanating from a huge goose egg on my forehead suggested I had been knocked unconscious by the boat.
Although nauseous from the pain in my head and the broken bone, I was breathing normally and felt no other discomfort. Impossible! How that could be? Perhaps I was hallucinating?
Any conjecture evaporated as I spotted sudden movement off to my left. I whirled to face it, unsure what type of undersea creature might be approaching. A large turtle? An enormous fish? Or something more menacing? A whale? Perhaps a shark? My heart resumed its earlier wild rhythm and adrenaline again flooded my system as my eyes strained to put a definitive shape to the shadow in the distance.
I relaxed a bit as the form drew near. I was both fascinated and mystified as it assumed a definite female shape. It looked like… It couldn’t be… They didn’t really exist, did they? I wracked my brain in an attempt to recall if I’d ever heard of a documented instance of an encounter with a mermaid. Unless I was hallucinating, I was face-to-face with one of these mythical beings: a mermaid with the face and curvaceous torso of a lovely young woman and the muscular tail of a fish. UN-believable!
Reminiscent of Lady Godiva, her mass of long blonde curls drifted lazily around her body, first hiding, then exposing creamy white skin and full, firm breasts. Her narrow waist flared out at the hips where the skin blended seamlessly into blue-grey, overlapping scales that shimmered in the water. They reflected light like a million tiny mirrors.
Slowly, she swam closer. Mesmerized, I studied every detail of this amazingly graceful creature: high cheekbones, a patrician nose, full lips, and wide blue eyes. Her powerful tail slowly curved, unfurled, and curved again, providing stability and keeping her upright in the water. Radiating curiosity, concern, and uncertainty, her face also expressed warmth and kindness.
Cocking her head slightly to the right, she examined me just as intensely as I scrutinized her. She seemed to understand my dire situation and smiled reassuringly. I cautiously smiled back, almost against my will and in total disbelief. With that encouragement, she floated up to me and offered her hand. Tentatively, I reached out to gingerly touch her fingers, nearly afraid I grasped for a mirage. At my touch, her smile widened, showing perfect white teeth, and her strong fingers clasped my hand in friendship. I started, shocked to find a tangible hand holding mine.
When her eyes darted past me, I let go of her hand and twisted fearfully in the water to see what was coming upon me from behind. Astonished, I discovered another mermaid stopping some distance away, her wavy black hair floating like a long spider web in the water. Light, café au lait skin, small, perky breasts, and a slim, almost boyish physique suggested a much younger age. The scales of her tail glistened green at the hips, then blended into a burnished coppery color at the bottom. Shy and afraid to approach too closely, she held back, her dark eyes wide with fascination and trepidation – this creature looked like her, yet did not. She hovered about a dozen feet away, gaping at my mask and snorkel and the neon pink Lycra wetskin encasing me from neck to ankle. The fact that I sported two legs instead of a fish-tail seemed cause for concern and anxiety.
The blonde mermaid squeaked to coax the brunette into swimming closer and motioned for her to take my other hand. I pointed to my broken right arm and vigorously shook my head, “No!” They understood my injury and the brunette darted off, purpose apparent in every flick of her tail.
When she reappeared some time later with a ten-inch branch of coral and some kelp, she overcame her initial fear and helped the blonde splint my arm, using the kelp to secure it. Although they were very careful, I nearly blacked out from the excruciating pain. When my vision cleared, I could see empathy in their eyes. The blonde then swam in front of me and cautiously backed into my front. The brunette helped me wrap my good arm around the blonde’s waist, gently sandwiching my broken limb between our bodies.
Using the remaining long length of kelp, the brunette lashed me to the blonde. Once satisfied I was secure, she swam slowly, jostling my arm as little as possible, and I appreciated her consideration.
Amazed at the power in the blonde’s tail at this slow pace, I could imagine being propelled through the water at astonishing speeds. I wondered where we were going since, so far, this had been a most amazing day and I suspected the surprises weren’t over yet.
Until next time…
“Read to escape reality . . . Write to embrace it.” ― Stephanie Connolly