Sam looked Jisha, her eyes closed, hair flying as the speed boat closed the island, and he felt the threatening rise of bile in his throat. Of course, it had nothing to do with the brilliant sight of Jisha herself, a sight to behold, and he wondered, even as a full blown retch threw itself shamelessly and noisily out of his gut, how he had landed with her. Daring, adventurous, always ready for a laugh. Did she think of him as a bore? Most likely a sissy, he decided as she held his shoulders and rubbed his back.
Leave me alone, he wanted to tell her, but decided to risk embarrassment over rudeness. He quietly washed his mouth and the spew from the sides of his mouth, struggling to hide the tears that had erupted without reason. Yes Sam, cry. That will help the situation. He looked out into the blue expanse that surrounded them, and wondered again how he had agreed to this disaster.
“All right there buddy?”, Anil sat with his arms around Nina, too busy to help him with his struggles. Asshole. Anil hadn’t breathed a word about water. Possibly because Sam would have refused up front. And if it hadn’t been for Sam, the trip would have been cancelled. Nina’s parents wouldn’t have agreed to the trip without Jisha, and Sam’s job was to entertain Jisha, while the two love birds made out. Well, he was entertaining them all right. And he would be providing more of it once they hit the water. Which of course, he had no clue how. He could faint of course, or pretend to suffer from something dramatic and unpronounceable. Like Hypoglycemia, whatever that meant. But this wasn’t going to score any points with Jisha. And she’d been sweet to him. Even pretending to be interested in whatever he had to say about his stupid life in St. Thomas High. He’d tried doing an impression of his Biology teacher, and she’d laughed. A tinkling laugh, that somehow felt like a Christmas morning.
“Well, here we are”, said Anil.
Here, turned out to be another boat. The whole operation was strictly on water, and land remained a thin distant line.
At some point, he found himself fitted into a diving suit, a mask, and an oxygen tank, and overall he decided that the experience was like being strapped into an electric chair within a gas chamber. It was now or never. Perhaps he should pronounce a few last words. But it would be lost in the excited chatter, the playful splashing of water, the festive tomfoolery. Nobody cared that he was going to die.
“Sam…you ok there?”, it was Jisha. She squeezed his hands and he felt a quick rush of heat at the back of his neck.
“Sir. Backwards.” Sam stared at the man before him. The man was gesticulating. He intended to push Sam. He looked up at Jisha. She nodded in encouragement. No, his mind screamed. There is a limit to what you can do to impress a woman. And dying was not one of them.
“I….I don’t think…”, the engine roared around him as he spluttered. He lurched backwards, and the man gave him a harsh push. Headlong, as if from a cliff, hands flaying, like a tragic clown slipping over an odd banana peel. This is how he was going to die. Without even a decent scream, for his mouth was stuffed with a pipe, like a dog with a bone too large.
When the darkness hit him, It all came back to him again, his consciousness tugging at him from a distance, his hands clawing wildly at the walls of water, the distant scream of his mother, blood vessels threatening to burst in his eyes, and the slow fading into the black. Welcoming him away from his pain.
The vigor of the shake forced his eyes open. On a wave of gold that swept before him Jisha floated, an angel on lumiscent cloud. Was he perhaps dead? She glided slowly before him, as if delivered to him by a sea of fishes, reaching a hand out to him in aquatic slowness, and pointing below, and he followed the direction. The sea bed was covered in a carpet of stunted trees, skeletal branches, vivaciously alive in their very death. Corals, he thought as the mesmerizing view caught his breath, which was when he realized that he had, in fact, a breath. He breathed in more deeply, and slipped his hands into Nina’s hands. She turned her face towards him, and even under the murky reflection of her scuba mask, Sam caught the glint of her silent smile.