Eve dove off the back of the boat into the sea. She came up for air, treading the smooth glassy water, and looked around her. The sun was just dipping towards the western horizon; a light that hit the sea and spread like molten gold. The deep purple of night was moving around and under her, and the silhouettes of other boats and an occasional fin were barely visible above the water. She was alone in the darkening world. Alone. Under her feet the ocean was immense and unknowable. Above her the sky was heavy and fathomless - coming down, pushing the sun into the sea as it melted and disappeared.
Suddenly, she did not want to be in the ocean at all. She turned and swam back to the boat, almost frantically. The fear and lonelines she had been too tired and hot from daily work to notice now seemed to come back at her. When she got to the ladder she was almost sobbing. She clung to the metal frame as if to life. She started to climb. She stopped.
What if she did let go? What if she swam and swam and swam until her legs and arms were so tired that she could not tread anymore? She would sink into oblivion - into the dark warm world of the ocean below and, perhaps, know peace at last. No more fighting. No more fear. No more trying and trying and trying to please everyone. No more wondering why. No more to miss the woman she longed to see every day.
Eve pushed off from the ladder, away from the still setting sun, towards the darkness. She plowed through the water in angry strokes, with panting breath, legs kicking steadily behind. Further and further she moved away from the boat. Soon, she thought, this will be over. Two or three minutes of pain and then blessed relief.
After swimming for some minutes she began to tire and stopped for a moment for air. Taking some deep breaths, she thought she heard something. She turned in a slow circle. Towards the sun then away and back again. Nothing. She waited, panting a bit, then began her swim again.
A few more strokes and she heard it, like a whisper, a breath. She stopped. Again turning in a circle, even slower this time. The sun had disappeared from the horizon. Full dark would be on her soon. No reason to stop now.
There! Again, a whisper. What was it saying?
Eve turned around, towards the golden light but saw nothing. The hairs on her bare shoulder were standing up. She slowed her breathing purposefully, trying to hear or not hear what was clearly some sort of hallucination. Her nurse’s brain analyzing the psychology of her current siutation.
“Eve!” The whisper (breath) had an intensity about it. She must be really losing her mind this time.
“WHAT?” She yelled into the fading light. “What do you want from me?”
“Ohhhhhh,” the whisper (breath) said. “Eve.”
“Who are you!?”
“Look at me.”
“Look at me?! Look at who? Look at what?” She was shouting at the night. At the sun, at the stars, at the sea. But she turned towards the golden light, as if her body knew what her brain could not accept.
Floating there, in the stream of gold, was…something. The sun seemed to have gotten brighter suddenly as if the earth began to turn the opposite way making it sunrise instead of sunset. The sea around her seemed warmer. Eve blinked a few times to try and clear her vision. The floating thing
flickered on and off like a projection, here and gone, here and gone. Eve could just make out a head with a shining crown and a startlingly beautiful blue dress which flowed over and into and was part of the water and WAS the water.
Eve swam towards it (her).
“Who are you?” Eve asked the hallucination. She was sure she was having some sort of psychotic break, but decided to just go with it. She was dead soon anyway.
seemed to smile, but how? Because Eve could not really make out a face. Still, she swam towards it, the edges of the image always just out of reach, until…Umph! She hit the ladder at the end of the boat.
Eve grabbed the ladder. Not possible. She could not be this close to the boat. She turned around to look at the woman…She blinked. The sun was gone. The woman was gone. The only light now was the swaying light of the boat she was holding onto and the thousands of stars above her head. She blinked again. She pinched herself hard, just under her ribcage.
“Eve?” the low voice of Captian Henry came to her from the bow of the boat. “Eve, where are you?”
Answer or swim away? Eve pondered her choices, an eternity in a moment.
“I’m here!” she called out.
As she climbed the ladder, out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a flicker of golden light. When she turned, there was nothing there. No breath. No whisper. Just the gentle sound of the ocean lapping at the boat.