Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: The Charm
The sapphire waters of the Red Sea broke into a turquoise blue where the coral reefs lay just off the barren island. Other boats had already moored with their occupants already jumping into the shallow, warm waters. Ben readied his snorkelling equipment, sweat running down his tanned back despite the early start. He waited patiently as others dropped into a shimmering adventure below, taking a deep breath, he stepped off the boat.
The water was as clear as that in a glass and Ben wasted no time in exploring. Quickly, he left the congestion of the organised group and immersed himself in the wonders of the reefs where he was inches away from shoals of tiny purple fish swimming directly beneath him. His eyes darted in all directions so not to miss a thing, camera ready, capturing a secret life of beauty, not limiting himself to the surface as he dived down holding his breath as he skimmed along the sandy bottom. Just as he began to turn up, something caught his eye, something shiny. But his lungs felt like they were in a vice. He broke the surface, the sun blinding him momentarily as he took deep breaths, spying the group in the distance before diving back down.
He knew where to head and there it was; the shiny object nestled on the sand. Taking photos first, he then picked up the charm, examining it carefully; the studded D shimmering in his hand as unsuspectingly, a strong current began to sweep Ben towards the drop off. Thrashing his legs, Ben fought against the current but his lungs were about to burst from his chest. Nothing but deep, blue sea faced him as the reef lay behind him. He realised he was out of his depth.
A hand reached out, grabbing him, pulling him up and with thrashing legs, Ben burst through the waves, gasping, filling up his lungs with air. He couldn’t see clearly through his misted goggles but saw the delicate string of pearls on a wrist that held onto his arm. Together, they swam back to the shallows and safety where the group were still exploring.
“Thank you,” Ben panted. “I’m usually a strong swimmer.”
“The currents here can catch you out. You shouldn’t have left the group.” Her voice was mellow despite the firmness of her message.
“I was distracted. Treasure,” he joked, opening up his hand.
“That’s mine.” She didn’t wait for Ben to offer the charm and clipped it onto her bracelet. “Thanks for finding it.” She smiled.
“What does the D stand for?”
“Hey!” The group leader shouted, times up!” The group started to swim back, flippers and arms splashing in the water, disrupting the quiet ripples into white froth. Ben lost sight of Deanna but he was last to climb onto the boat where he was handed a towel and a drink before climbing up on deck, looking for Deanna as the group leader took a final headcount.
The boat started back for the mainland as Ben asked around for Deanna, searching the decks, bathroom and kitchen. She was nowhere. “We have to go back!” he demanded. “You’ve counted wrong.”
“No, we’re all present and correct Ben,” the group leader said. “Did you say Deanna?”
“Yes. She was out by the drop off, we swam back together. She should be here.”
“My friend”, began the group leader, “you have not heard the legend of Deanna?”
“What do you mean legend?”
“Ten years ago, a ship very much like this one with tourists like you, came out here to dive, like you. There was a girl called Deanna. She was a good diver, swimmer, like a fish in the water. She always came out here. But one day, she lost a charm to her bracelet and was so consumed in finding it that she ran out of air and the current was too strong for her. She didn’t make it.”
The boat fell silent.
“Legend says she now swims these waters, looking for her charm and saving those who find themselves in difficulty. You, my friend, have met the legend!” He slapped Ben on his back as Ben stared out across the clear blue waters, straining for another glimpse of Deanna, before his attention was drawn to his camera and the last photo he took; the charm. Excitedly, he looked through the pictures again and again but all they revealed was sand.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x