I look at my watch. Below me the shapes of fish glimmer for moments in the beams of light, and then are gone. It is as if the water calls to me, beckons me. An invitation, an aperitif to what is to be seen. They shimmer and my watch glints.
It’s cold, at least to a stranger of this coast – to me it is warm and embracing. I am black from head to foot.
After five minutes, I am ready.
I descend. In four pinches of my nose I am weightless, and then, my lungs crushed, I am nothing. The bed pulls me like a magnet until I am on the ground. All around, the turquoise world hasn’t noticed me yet.
I survey the aurora of creatures and weeds. Just a few metres from me lies the submarine. Bubbles come from its rusted interior; she was down here too.
I would say that I observe the place like a king does his kingdom, or as a conqueror satisfies his self-esteem with a view of his new lands; but I am not the ruler. The sea is one entity, larger than any man’s land. It doesn’t recognise me as its invader. My mask might as well be on the shore, for it makes no difference to my significance.
The sea doesn’t care about me at all. All I have is a few minutes of air, none of its time.
And yet, it is enchanting. I look and see the creatures, their shapes and proportions, figures and tails. What cynic with me could dismiss those blockhead animals as not invigorating?
I am at peace. I swim to the submarine. My partner perches in an open hatch in the craft. If only I could stay down here like it has, she says with her eyes, through the glass. I agree with her.
I look at her. How long has she sat here? Minutes; sometimes they are hours, but they always must end.
She is finished; I take her place. She ascends with gentle flourishes, fluttering in the ocean breeze, until only the dark shadow of her legs remains, faint above me.
Have you ever been submerged and have looked up at the waves? That barrier between air and water, ever breaking and reforming like the sand it leaves behind for us to find and crumple and flow through our fingers. It is sublime.
My minutes are dying. Three, perhaps four; I have practised well. I ascend. The light glares, as if to command me to remain. Oh, I wish I could obey.