This is written for the Writer's Cramp daily prompt.
|It was just a fish in the ocean.
Nothing to be worried about. There were lots of them. I just didn’t like the idea of it swimming so close or touching me. I stared down at it swimming below the surface, below me as I muddled my way snorkeling through the bluest, clearest water I had ever seen.
Ahead of me, my husband had stopped. He seemed to find my terrors funny. Me jumping at a little fish or a piece of seaweed; but I was so out of my element. I loved water and swimming, but I was built for land. I felt safer there somehow.
Being told there was a Barracuda about did not help my nerves. That is just a fish in the ocean, but it has some serious issues and I did not want to be part of it. There were also sting rays and they had their place…far below me; or so I though, until one lumbered by only inches below me. It was slow and graceful. It stole my breath when I saw the looming shadow, then relaxed as it moved past.
Schools of fish shot past. I froze and pulled myself up short. Pulling my limbs in and watching wide-eyed. I could feel my husband’s laughter vibrate through the gentle waves. I ignored him.
Xelha is a natural aquarium; glassed off from the ocean by a bridge with Plexiglas supports and panels. Nothing overly big could get in. Just that single Barracuda and that was enough for me. It has a river that flows out into the ocean; a slow moving, gentle river that is hugged by mangroves. Swimming in the river is blissful and it feels safe; especially when you start out in a floating tube and can bob your way along. Swimming beyond the river was nerve racking for me. It felt like open water and though I could see all around me, I felt my nerves edging up on me, sitting, waiting for the unexpected to drop in or surge up.
Even the birds seemed to get in on the action. One pelican flew in for a hopeful meal at the stingray enclosure; its wings grazing over me as I bobbed in the water. My husband called out moments before and I looked up to see only grey feathers spanning out inches above me. I scrambled and swore staring up as I listened to his laughter. The second pelican tried to make a take-off, and then changed his mind, plummeting back into the water, stopping only a few feet from me. I had been in his take off path and he had thought he could make it.
My husband, of course, thought this was hilarious.
When next I heard the barracuda was close, my husband swam nearer to see if he could find it. I was having none of that, so I backed away, careful to keep my husband in view as I refused to follow him. I was not to be barracuda bait. By that time, I had had enough. I was ready to swim back for land and a good stiff drink.