“How can you be STUCK?!” I sign laboriously, fighting against the rising tide of frustration lapping at the insides of my stomach.
Her eyes are terrified as she shrugs and indicates (wildly – I can’t even tell where she’s pointing) the location where she thinks the snag is. Bubbles are streaming out of her regulator…too fast! She’s going to hyperventilate and then where will we be? I dig down deep and find a small, still pool of pragmatism.
I hold her masked face in my two hands and indicate that she should slow her breathing. I keep my eyes locked onto hers and gradually the streams of bubbles settles back into a calmer rhythm. Then I release her and manoeuvre myself into the best possible position to try to figure out what she’s caught on.
Cursing at her insistence on exploring the wreck’s interior, I slide my arms past her, feeling her muscles clenched and flickering as she still tries to wrestle herself free. Her struggles jam my arm painfully against the side of the narrow opening she tried to use as an exit, and a puff of red spurts into the water as I wince and jerk free, catching myself on a jag of metal.
*Something* is definitely stuck. Or wrapped around. And I can’t get to it. I ignore the sting in my salt-flooded wound and try again, blindly feeling the shape of the obstruction, kicking my fins as hard as I can, pressing against her and trying to get enough purchase to push past – just a little – to get to…
Shitshitshitshitshit! A huge flood of bubbles leaps up into the blue and sudden panic registers in her face as her mouth fills with water – I’ve broken her airline! Shit! I spit my mouthpiece out and thrust it towards her, both of us fumbling as she splutters and takes in precious air. Our eyes follow the silvery trail of lost oxygen up to the distant, sparkling surface of the water, now as inaccessible as the moon.
And she’s still stuck. I slam my hand against the hull of the wreck in frustration, doubly annoyed at the water which holds me back from making satisfyingly vicious contact. She’s crying into her mask, tears pouring, glass misting, and I do my best to slide my arms around her, offering what shreds of comfort I can. Our rings glitter beautifully in the diffuse blue gloom, seeming to gather sunlight from where it pours, fathoms above, as though bringing us the reminder that the world is still up there.
We weave the fingers of our wedded hands together and we wait, sharing the mouthpiece, passing it gently back and forth between us, nuzzling into each other; both reduced to dependent sucklings.
One tank of air.
Two lives at stake.
I check the timer.
Today’s post was brought to you courtesy of Tipsy Lit’s prompt ‘Impossible choices’