- Vol. 10
- Chapter 04
We swam together in the early days, twisting through kelp forests and weaving between rocks, basking in the dancing light from a sun that shone almost every day. As the seasons passed, we moved into deeper waters where the warmth was harder to find. You enjoyed the company of the larger creatures below while I preferred to spend my time studying patterns on the surface above. When you started going on expeditions to the seabed a few miles further out, something changed. Something I felt as a difference in the pressure of the water; in colours that lost their intensity and absorbed the grey of the depths instead.
We swam further apart now, the invisible thread that had always bound us gone slack. I idled on my back and looked for the light rippling above, but my vision had become clouded, or the water less clear than it once was. You seemed intent on pushing further into the cold, persuaded perhaps by the new friends you had made in the deep. You learned their language, tried to teach me, but I found no rhyme or reason I could latch onto in the sounds they made.
I let myself rise and sink through the days, listless and cold. What would it take to break that thread forever? A silent ship passing overhead, slicing through it before we had time to get out of the way? Would it eventually dissolve, eroded by salt and the passing of time?
It was another creature in the end, though she didn’t know – she was dead, poor thing, though perhaps only a day. I found her caught under a ledge of rock, dragged out here by something bigger than us. Her long hair fanned out from her face and her eyes stared wide into my own, and I was struck by how young she was, her torn diving suit revealing smooth firm skin. I’d seen many of her kind before, back in the shallows. They lived above the surface, they only ever came down wearing masks and cylinders and never for very long. They would be looking for her, I knew.
She wasn’t bound by anything except the current pushing her under the ledge. A few careful nudges and she was out, but the rock was sharp and must have cut the thread. I didn’t have time to tell you, I didn’t know where you were. It would take all my effort not to let her sink, to get her back to the shallows before they stopped searching for her. I focused on my task, on finding a rhythm to propel me as I made my way towards the sun.