Dashiell’s Mom and Dad were crowded into the area around the ship’s disembarkation point (that’s a ship’s foot passenger exit, you see), where, along with several other passengers, they were preparing to leave the ship for their Cold Water Scuba Diving expedition. It turned out this was a very popular excursion, and so it was a somewhat chaotic scene. The 2 diving instructors leading the group were quite occupied shuffling paperwork and clipboards, while also handing out heavy-duty wetsuits, along with protective and warming booties and hoods, and face masks with snorkels, and so the excursion attendees were coming and going from the nearby restrooms, emerging clad in all black neoprene.
Now, as you might guess, Dashiell was curious about this new uniform, and so he and Fergus approached the closest, but more harried-looking of the instructors, who was busy trying to tick names off a list, tie back his long curly mane, adjust his own suit and mask, and get people outfitted. He could hardly walk since all the tanks and weight belts and other gear were lined up on the free space around him. Dashiell’s simple intent was to touch the texture of a suit, to feel how heavy it was, and how durable, and discover where the zippers were.
But when the curly-haired instructor handed both he and Fergus a complete wetsuit each, Dashiell decided it wouldn’t do any harm to try them on, even though they were not going on the excursion, which was for adults and teens only (will make exceptions for excellent swimmers, the excursion brochure had explained). The boys slipped into the bathroom and quickly changed, laughing at their transformation. They found two stray face masks there as well, and fitted them over their young faces, tightening the straps until the masks’ suction effect kicked in, just so.
The boys rejoined the crowd, pointing out to Dashiell’s Mom and Dad how superb they were looking. Dashiell’s mom was surprised since she had been distracted while tangling with her own gear. Playfully they all pretended to dive down below the surface, sitting on the floor as if it was the bottom of a riverbed, then bobbing up to the surface again, and swimming like turtles. It was at this moment that the crowd began to push forward, down the gangplank, and out of the ship, and the instructors were hollering to everyone to hustle over to the waiting coach, whose departure was imminent. Just like that, Dashiell and Fergus were swept off the ship and onto the fancy bus, and off on their Next Great Adventure.
The coaches drove the excited (and by now, clammy) passengers to a remote coastal location, and, as they spilled excitedly from the coaches, they were met with a stunning vista of calm protected bay, its surface painted with the reflection of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The water was quartz crystal blue; small red wooden cabins dotted the rocky shoreline. It was silent except for the gentle lapping of the water against a wooden dock, and the occasional flap of a seabird’s wing, skimming the surface for a midday treat.
By now the diving instructors had discovered their error in allowing the two young boys to join the excursion, but, being Scandinavian, were not too concerned about lawsuits and, in general, preferred a flexible interpretation of any instruction classified as a rule. They told the boys they may watch from a safe distance, and even wade in the shallow water, using their snorkels and face masks to investigate any close-to-shore creatures, or keep warm in the sauna, which had a clear view of the bay.
Relieved, Dashiell’s mom gave the boys “thumbs up” sign as she and Mr. Weiss descended into the shallow water, bubbles from their scuba respirators rising quickly to the surface. Soon the entire party was either submerged or snorkeling on the surface, and Fergus and Dashiell were free to explore. They spent about thirty seconds in the sauna, which they found completely uncomfortable, especially in their full wetsuits. Instead, they lay on their stomachs on the shoreline, face masks in the water, and overturned rocks on the bottom, looking for crabs and small fish. The sun was warm on their backs, and when they laughed, the sound of their laughter echoed around the bay. a splash nearby attracted their attention; another diver has flopped backward into the water from the dock. This was intriguing, so the boys went to investigate.
The walk down the dock was a long one, as now that they were elevated, they could spot several members of the excursion under the water, and Dashiell and Fergus kept stopping to try to identify which black blob was Mrs. or Mister Weiss. Surely that one? No, this one, on this side…is that them?
At the end of the dock now, they looked out to the craggy mountains on the other side of the bay, and then down at the water, where the scuba diver had splashed into the icy water…they could no longer see him, and the surface of the water was still once more. Dashiell looked at Fergus, and Fergus looked at Dashiell, each wondering if the other was thinking the same thing.
“Ready?” said Fergus, holding out his hand.
“I’m not sure, Fergus…it’s pretty far and the water is cold and…I don’t think I can.”
“Aww, Dashiell, it’s just a wee loch,” said Fergus, his Scottish drawl lengthening the short word “loch” into what sounded like several syllables. “It’s hardly ten inches away from us. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll want to go again!”
“Ok, ok…wait. Let me get ready.” Dashiell adjusted his face mask and stalled, adjusting the strap loops. The face mask was so tight it pushed against his nose, rather uncomfortably. Dashiell began to shake as Fergus started the countdown.
“On 3. One, two,” which sounded like “toououou,” then “three!”
Hands clasped, the boys jumped into the water, and then, being so small and light, bobbed up to the surface quickly, like ice cubes in a fishbowl.
Dashiell clamored up onto the dock, shaking from cold, and excitement.
Fergus, treading water, slipped his mask up and squinting due to the sharp angle of the sunlight, watched as Dashiell jumped in again next to him, sending tiny droplets of water into the sky, each one with a tiny rainbow inside.