Until death do us part

“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.

Silvery Trail

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…

SHIT!

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.

30 minutes.

One vow.

What now?

 

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Today’s post was brought to you courtesy of Tipsy Lit’s prompt ‘Impossible choices’

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79 thoughts on “Until death do us part

    • Marrrvellous. Then you really felt it with this one? Good to know – thank you 🙂 And I think my greatest ‘death’ fear is suffocation. Or burning. Maybe burning more than the others, in fact.

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  2. Oh geebies, this triggers some phobias, lol. I love how this story transitions from frustration to anger and then finally to dread. And you definitely capture the narrator ‘s maleness, especially when he hits the current object of his frustration, the sunken wreck. Overall a very well-written and powerful piece! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Ten Things of Thankful #58 | Considerings

      • Don’t tell me….wait….tell me….no….don’t! You could make one of them die in a heroic moment trying to save the other one, or they could fight over the mask and both lose.

        Or I’ll just leave the writing to you because I’m horrible at this kind of thing.

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        • Ahhh but you see – there will be no more writing. I’m just gonna leave them there – perpetually entombed in the blue, wondering what to do next!

          I wondered SO many ways to end this…in the end I thought I’d truncate and leave people with the frustration of an unfinished tale 😉

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  4. I used to scuba dive and this was so vivid – and so scary! The cliffhanger immediately prompts one to come up with their own solutions: remove the tank from the wife – maybe they can change over to that tank once the first tank of air runs out (but how would that really help – except to postpone the inevitable?) Or perhaps the wife could be given the tank/regulator and her spouse could swim to the surface and get help? Of course, now there is blood in the water from the cut – sharks could be making a visit soon! Wreck diving always terrified me – so this just reinforced that I wasn’t crazy for being nervous (this kind of thing happens!)

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    • See, I *knew* there’d be holes in this as soon as an actual diver looked. I was thinking the guy could *probably* hold his breath to the surface…but then what! Is there a boat? How far away is help? I guess it’s still feasible that we’d never know if the ending was good or bad…

      And yes – perhaps sharks!

      I’m so glad that you know this world, and you still liked this story – thank you for that encouragement 😀

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  5. Where am I? What day is it? OH YEAH, I’m at my laptop reading Lizzi’s post so THAT IS WHY I PASSED OUT FROM HOLDING MY BREATH! *gasps* Your writing! It’s dangerous and it should come with a warning! hahaha
    SERIOUSLY though!
    (Well done once again. I’ll just be looking for my asthma inhaler if anyone needs me…..)

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    • You know, my pilates teacher once said she would *love* to spend an hour in my brain…I think she wouldn’t. There are so, so very many things which lurk there!

      No intimidation necessary! I am entirely unscary and perfectly lovely (sometimes) 🙂 Thank you 😀

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    • Aw thanks. And yes sad – at least one of them will perish, I’m sure…I don’t see how it can be otherwise! I don’t think there will be magical dolphin rescues in this tale.

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  6. And here I was just contemplating getting scuba certified…eek! For whatever reason, I didn’t think “scuba” or “underwater” at first — I was in a hospital with deaf people and someone hooked up to a crazy machine while the other person dug around their insides looking for something stuck, maybe making them choke. Needless to say, I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around when I figured out what was going on! Such an exciting and terrifying scene.

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    • For real? To be fair, I have serious doubts that anyone would go scuba diving without a) letting someone on top know where they are and what time they *should* be back, or b) without taking some kind of emergency alert – a distress balloon to send up, or something…so there’s that! (I’m not au fait with scuba, so I don’t really know, but it was a plot hole which crossed my mind – that said, all fiction asks you to suspend reality to some extent).

      I’m glad you were with deaf people at the start – I intended to obfuscate a little, just for fun. I’m glad it made more sense the second time through, though. However, perhaps I need to make it a *little* more obvious…this is useful feedback – thank you 🙂

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      • I was in Maui a week ago and contemplated using a few free days for scuba certification, but it’s pretty expensive! I’ll see if it comes up again down the line, maybe in Central America… ❤

        Eh, I don't think it's such a terrible plot hole. After all, even if they did have those safety measures in place, the woman would probably drown before anyone on the surface had a chance to save her.

        And you're very welcome!

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  7. WOW. Captivating and beautifully written….I was drawn in instantly and whymustyoudothistome because I want MORE of your writing! You really should write a book! As I was reading, I felt like I was right there with them! I know how absolutely terrifying it is to not be able to breathe, and you captured that with bone-chilling accuracy. Pleasepleaseplease tell me they didn’t ACTUALLY drown though…maybe a friendly dolphin came along and saved them and they lived happily ever after? 😉 (Wishful thinking? Maybe. I am way too invested in your characters right now!)

    In any case, brilliantly done!

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    • Well, m’dear, that’s high praise for my writing, from someone whose writing about breathing difficulties regularly constricted my lungs and made it difficult to draw breath for being so involved in your storyline…I’ just glad mine is fiction.

      Hmmm. I like your wishful thinking, but I don’t like making it too easy on my readers – in the last piece like this I wrote, there was death in the middle and at the end. I think, in this case, honour wins out (sorry) and it’s a tragic end (maybe – we’ll never know) – but for you I would give them nitrogen narcosis and let them slip away amidst glorious hallucinations, incandescently happy, and they would get their happily ever after that way. Will that do?

      And another comment for a book….oh MAYBE! Maybe I could put one together of short stories…perhaps! I’ll need to write a few more, and talk to Laura, because she knows about these things.

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    • Oooooooh now that’s been suggested before! Perhaps, one day, I will! I’d need to write some happier stories though! But there are a good few oldies on the blog which people have enjoyed…it would be fun to try, perhaps!

      And thank you, my dear Kitty, for your lovely feedback and words. ❤

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    • Well, yes – it ends very trickily, because we’ll only ever *assume* that it was a sweet, Romeo and Juliet style death…but there’s still that question mark, and who would blame my narrator for leaving…?

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  8. Oh my god this is incredible.

    I’ve read your fiction before, but what I’ve read has been mostly character driven.

    But this! This has my insides churning! This is really good! I’m there, with them, and I can’t breathe…

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    • Truly? You do me great honour then, with a visceral reaction to this. It was stronger in the other piece I mentioned to Beth, but this had a word limit and the other one rambled. BUT I love that it still worked, even in a tiny, compact space of 500 words, to constrict and start the drowning…

      *glowy*

      I do rather enjoy environment-driven, too 😀

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      • Lizzi. I don’t know anyone who can put words together like you. And your range- poetry, fiction, non fiction. Your non fiction- Emotional and personal all the way to global and humanitarian.

        You honor ME. You’ve written for me. Do you know what an honor that is? There aren’t many writers on WordPress I fawn over like this. You’re brilliant. That is all.

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        • Goodness me, but I’m grinning, Precious 🙂

          I feel as though I am just one amongst MANY writers (admittedly not all of them on WP) who can cover those bases. But I’ll concede the versatility, and I do like that. This blog is a great place to practice. Eventually I will learn from all of you and be able to reproduce and equal your talents, I hope. I have so many incredible writers around me, and I love that so many are also my friends – You, Hasty, Beth, Mandi, Laura, Kristi, K, Katia, Kimberly – these are the people who on a regular basis take me into a very magical place with their writing.

          That said, I do rather like the fawning. *eyes sparkle*

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    • Thank you so much 🙂 I kind of decided that if I wasn’t going to go for ‘cake or ice-cream’ or ‘the blue or the red pill’ for the prompt, then there were really relatively few ‘impossible choices’ left. I wrote a piece AGES ago called…into the blue (I think) and it had the same(ish) theme, but with free diving. It got HUGE response in terms of ‘feels’ readers experienced (so, #ego) and I enjoyed writing it because it’s the ocean.

      Other than that, it was just a process of figuring out where the choice would lie.

      I once read a book called Neutral Buoyancy, too. It stuck with me very strongly, and diving was so exquisitely described. And you know me and the ocean, anyway…

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  9. Wow, this was intense! Having taken scuba diving lessons many years ago a phobia of claustrophobia overcame me that I was never able to shake. This only magnified those fears! Really, really great write though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh GOOD! I was hoping that there would be a few *feels* wrapped up in this one. Thanks for that awesome feedback. I’ve never scuba-dived, though I think it would be really fun to try one day.

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