The Swim

by Ajith Aiyar

The moon was full and lighting up the coast. He had come to his favorite haunt, the beach. He breathed deeply and enjoyed the smell of salt in the air. The sea was so calm, blue green and so inviting as he enjoyed the solitude and the oneness he felt with the ocean.

The sea was something he had loved from childhood when he trained and swam early in his life. He remembered how he completed two miles when he was just eleven. He was diving and snorkeling by the time he was fourteen.

He had seen the wonder of the underwater world. He reminisced about the most colorful and exquisite fish he had seen and on occasion touched them carefully as they came close to him and ate the bread rolls he carried to feed them. They had a habit of nibbling his body! The sensation was exquisite!

The beach he was staring at was a dangerous one. This was another place and the sand abruptly ended with slippery rocks. To get to the water required an acrobatic walk over a slippery surface and a dive when the waves receded; it could mean instant death if the dive was not timed.

He slowly got on the rocks and walked to the end very cautiously concentrating on maintaining balance. It usually took about three minutes, today it seemed longer! He was now at the edge of the rocks getting ready to time his dive. He watched carefully as the waves gently crashed and wet his feet. They were gentle and he chuckled to himself counting the seconds of the pull back of the waves. He had to dive precisely at the moment the wave started receding so that he could swim out and hit the calm waters.

He launched himself hit the water and let the wave drag him away from the rocks and pushed himself with a quick kick to get under the next wave. He was used to keeping his eyes open in salt water and he turned face up to see the surface and timed his ascent.

He surfaced and looked at the coast! Another rendezvous with the sea was successful! He swam a little further to get away from the coast and to float face up to see the sky. It was beautiful the stars were out and the moon so radiant. He let the current drag him to deep water as he soaked the luxury of the water. It was warm and so comforting.

His thoughts drifted as the current took him further. He wanted to see the shore line and started treading water. There were no lights in his part of the coast. But the main town was well lit. He started swimming parallel to the coast line for about an hour. He was tired as he allowed himself to float as he drifted in the water. He was tired now and his breathing was laborious! He had come as far as he could!

It was time to finish this swim. Against all his inherent training he started expelling his lungs so that he would sink! He gulped water and he sank to the floor of the sea. His last thoughts before he passed out were a distant recollection of his family. He was found the next day by a group of fishermen, bloated, but not yet decomposed, about five miles from the coast!

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