Stirring the Waters

Though it was only a short walk from the resort, it was far enough to seem like a tropical paradise. I had meandered for perhaps twenty minutes, far enough to escape the rest of the tour party huddled around the finest overpriced gewgaws I had ever seen. My mind had been flooded with misgivings and regrets for a long time, and I had hoped the trip would bring some kind of peace. At the very least, some distraction. Sadly the only ones forthcoming had been the drawling accents of fellow passengers and other buzzing pests. I just needed some time to myself.

In a daze I wandered through the undergrowth, along a faintly trodden path criss-crossed with ferns leaving brown stains on my legs and shorts. The sound of life was deafening, a tremendous burgeoning at odds with my relatively barren and cold home environment. I followed the distant sound of waves, and emerged at the top of a cliff of red clay. I could make out a couple of yachts in the distance, but other than that the seascape horizon was unsullied. A couple of wisps of cloud decorated the light blue sky, a vapour trail receding into the distance. I paused, sweat dripping, and embraced the scene and its accompanying breeze. For a second, I forgot myself and my worries. Moments later, I made my way down a skiddery slope to reach the enticing rock-pools below. The rocks themselves were slightly slippery with the red clay caking my sandals, so I quickly removed them, only to discover that the sun baked rocks were hotter than I had anticipated.

Dancing and swearing like some errant madman, I pranced about before trying to balance back on my previously discarded sandals. As expected I slipped onto my backside, and promptly leapt to my feet with a redoubled vehemence to my cussing. Unable to think of a better solution, I jumped into the closest rock-pool and blissful cool engulfed me. Under the water, light was translated into something… wondrous. For a short time, I held my breath in a kaleidoscope of broken bubbles and colour; but the temperature change took my breath away far too quickly. I resurfaced.

The water was actually quite pleasant, and I wiped my eyes clear. Looking around in a brief moment of prudishness, I removed my sopping clothes and laid them out on the baking rocks to dry. It felt good to be naked and alone. Peaceful. I thrilled in the warmth on my naked back, then turned supine and stretched out langorously in the water, ocasionally kicking my legs to stay afloat. Cool liquid lapped at my skin, and I trailed water droplets across my chest with a finger. I lost myself in the sensuous deep blue sky. I could hear the waves nearby, gently caressing the beach. Sporadic bursts of birdsong came from close by. My fingers toyed with the water, plucking at the surface tension.

It was so pure and simple. So delightful, just to experience that playful slap of hand on water, pushing under and watching the water rush into the wake of my hand’s passage. I ducked underwater again, amazed by how clear it was, and proceeded to pull handfuls of air underwater. I watched the resulting bubbles surge skywards, brilliant crystal tumours like jellyfish, each clearly picked out in bright sunlight. Admiring each one in turn, I was fascinated by the little cluster of bubbles that clung to my hands, leaping free reluctantly with a little shake of my wrist. I tried to recapture these errant motes of air but it was as slippery and difficult as picking eggshell fragments out of a yolk. They evaded my clumsy attempts with ease.

Resurfacing, I took a deep breath, then returned to my exquisite kingdom of air and water. This time I cupped my hands and brought great clutches of air down below the surface. The implosion of air resounded in my ears underwater, like miniature depth charges. The bubbles flurried upwards in a great column, coalescing into tremendous rising membranes even more closely resembling jellyfish than before. I exhaled and without buoyancy gently came to rest on the stony bottom of the pool. In between breaths, in liquid caught between the solid rock and gaseous sky, I watched the little specks of life fleeing upwards. Like treacherous angels they fled, leaving me feeling the deep and demanding need to breathe. It seemed so peaceful, breathless, wrapped in a warm amnion and bathed in an almost divine radiance from on high.

Again I resurfaced. This time as I submerged again, I became more playful. I tried to see if I could feed myself oxygen by opening my mouth underwater like a downward facing cave and guiding the air bubbles to fill it. Sadly this experiment was less than successful and I soon admitted defeat. Laughing and spluttering with a mouthful of salty water, I held onto the edge and regained my composure. I stubbornly tried once more but met with the same comical failure. I paused again to catch my breath and admired the way the shadows cast by the trees overhead mottled the rock surface close by. I closed my eyes and finally my mind relaxed.

That horrible sense of loss you feel when a loved one departs, that frustration at all the things you could have done but didn’t do. Bubbles rising out of reach. The good times that once filled you with such joy, now savage like harpies denying any solace with their taunts. Beautiful but untouchable. The loneliness of absent love, something taken for granted with proximity and constancy, but painfully nonexistent on reflection. Trying to breathe underwater. Despite the familiar imaginings that had wrought such emotional anguish upon me for months, in my heart I was… still. All the pain seemed to be drawn out of me into the water. A cleansing baptism, gently soothing the pain of time from my body. Like a cup, I had been so overfilled with love and anguish that it had spilled forth into everyday life. I was thrown about by these eddies and intimate stirrings of the soul, unable to concentrate. After all that, amazingly, I was finally able to contain all those feelings and accept them. I opened my eyes, refreshed and renewed, ready for the world.

I jerked off in peace, a blissful physical release to synchronise with my emotional purge. After a while I dressed myself in toasty warm clothes. Splashing water onto the rocks cooled them a little whilst I put on my sandals, then began the walk back to civilisation. I gave the sea and the sheltered pool a brief backward glance, then moved on.