Friday, April 27, 2012

A Sense of Place

The kitchen tiles look to be one inch by one inch, but they’re so grimy it’s hard to tell. In the blue-green light, they look grey. The pure light of the torch doesn’t seem to improve their colour, although in some places the grime is layered thinly enough to guess that years ago the tiles were white. The countertop below the tiled wall is thick with things living and green. Emily uses her lungs like two big balloons, sucking air into her chest and pushing it out with controlled breathing, to hover above the cupboard door sticking out from the rest of the unit. She looks at the gaping hole in the floor and rises, then falls, or descends with such slow grace that she would maybe look like a feather if she remembered to keep her hands folded over her belly button.

She follows Simon down. He holds a rope to guide his descent into the murky darkness. Emily shines her torch on the rope; it is furry with orange and brown seaweeds, burnt yellow anemones, and crusty grey and black barnacles. The rope’s top end is tied to a buoy, the bottom end—thirty-seven metres below the surface—is tied up somewhere in the belly of Olympia Maru.

Emily moves her torchlight down and strains to see through the dusty blue-green water. She moves into the shadow, a stationery ink-black cloud, pressing her regulator closer to her mouth. The air she sucks in is cold and dry; it chills her throat and bites the inside of her lungs. She drifts downwards as she exhales.


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