Jayme had to promise Daniel she would be Marge’s ‘buddy’ for the dive, and he promised these would be private lessons, at the going rate of course, which Jayme gladly paid. Marge and Jim were taken through all the textbook techniques on the shore in the shade of the banyon trees. They were apt and enthusiastic students, and Daniel was duly impressed. Shortly before noon, Daniel and Jayme selected gear from the resort’s rental storage locker, and helped the Thomas’ suit up.
“Isn’t this exciting, Jim? We will finally get to dive!” Marge was obviously on cloud nine. Jim could only smile lovingly at his wife of over forty years. He turned to Jayme, and his smile shifted to one of gratitude. Jayme silently returned the smile.
“Now,” Daniel continued, “the vest you’re wearing is called a Buoyancy Control Device, BCD for short, or just BC. It is used to keep you afloat at the surface, similar to a life vest, but more importantly, it’s used to keep you off the coral as you swim along the bottom. Like it’s name, it controls your bouyancy. The further down you go, the more pressure you’re under, the more likely you are to brush against the corals. We protect the coral at all costs. Well, almost all costs. Marge, what is the atmospheric pressure at sixty six feet?”
“Two,” she replied quickly.
“Good. And at thirty three feet?”
“One. It increases one atmosphere every 33 feet.” Marge beamed with pleasure at her new found information.
“Alright, we’re going to practice breathing with the regulators,” and the lessons continued over the next hour, with the four of them sitting in the water at various depths. Every now and then, Jayme would drift ten or fifteen feet out from them, switch on her camera and swim back to them, always eliciting joyous waves of hello for the camera.
At one thirty in the afternoon, Daniel and Jayme were ready to take the Thomas’ on their first shore dive. Jayme had explained that while she would be Marge’s buddy for the dive, most of the time she would stay ten to thirty feet away so she could video what they were doing. Daniel didn’t argue with Jayme’s plan, as the dive would be in relatively shallow water, twenty five feet, and the surface easily reached in the event of a problem. Besides, the elderly couple had proved to be apt students.
“Okay, Marge, let me see you prepare your mask. Good,” Daniel commented as he watched her smear the inside of the face plate with de-fogger and rinse it off lightly with sea water. “Now the two of you check each others equipment.”
“Say, you two look like old pros at this,” Jayme’s commentary from the water was encouraging to the pair. “Super, now swim toward me some, let the air out of your BC and begin your descent with Daniel.” As the duo did as told, Jayme guided her camera to water level, following them below as they descended. The effect would be phenomenal, water splashing against the lens, then clearing as it reached full submersion.
Jayme stayed fairly close until the pair seemed to relax. Soon they began to show the normal curiosity about what was on the ocean floor, and Jayme drifted away to get a better angle. Having planned many underwater video’s, Jayme knew the Thomas’ would want to see on film the same things whey were seeing up close. She panned away from the trio and focused on the honey damsel fish off to her left. Soon a yellowtail snapper became curious and joined the four eye butterfly fish that had wandered into view. A school of blue chromis were dodging in and out the tube corals, and Jayme deftly captured them on film.
As she spotted a Tiger Grouper approaching the group, Jayme remembered the treats in her pocket. She casually swam over to Marge and tapped her on the arm to get her attention.. Jayme held up her hand, palm to Marge, to indicate ‘wait’, then she unzipped one of her many BC pockets and pulled out a plastic baggie filled with strips of ham from the morning breakfast table. She gave Marge and Jim each several strips, giving the rest, including the baggie, to Daniel, who pocketed it and nodded, knowing immediately what she had in mind. The trio was soon surrounded by a spectacular ‘feeding frenzy’ involving many varieties of colorful fish. Blue-headed wrasse, Stoplight Parrotfish, Indigo hamlets and the ever present yellow jacks joined together to form a curtain between Jayme and the others. The surprised and delighted look on Marge’s face filled Jayme with a warm glow.
The dive was quickly coming to an end. Daniel had allowed the Thomas’ to stay down much longer than Jayme had anticipated. Nearly forty five minutes. She took her place by Marge as they made their leisurely way toward the shore. As they began to surface, Jayme pulled the camera up just below surface level, and turned it on. She slowly brought it up and out of the water, like a surfacing submarine. Holding the camera steady while bobbing in the water was not easy, but she did capture the couple climbing out of the water and sprawling on the beach in satisfied exhaustion.
“Good dive, people!” Daniel grinned. “I’m really proud of you, Marge. You handled that feeding like a veteran. Weren’t you scared at all?”
“Well, I will admit I was a little startled at first, but it was so fascinating! All those fish, right there in front of me. I think I was too busy trying to see everything going on to be scared.” Marge stopped, her face shadowed in a mixture of profound feelings. She gave Daniel a slow smile. “Thank you, Daniel, this is an afternoon I’ll never forget,” her voice thick with tender emotion. Jim stepped in close to enfold her tenderly in his arms.
“It doesn’t have to end here, you know,” Daniel caught the movement as Jayme jerked her head toward him in puzzlement. “How would you like to go out again tomorrow?”
Jayme’s heart pounded against her ribs like a jackhammer on a busy street. “Daniel?” was all she could squeak out. Was he really going to give them a second dive? She couldn’t believe it! How wonderful!
“That is if you don’t mind sharing the boat with them, Jayme,” Daniel grinned like he had a secret ready to divulge. “I did some asking around about Miguel. He’ll be here in the morning to take you back to Horseshoe Wall. Want some company?”
Jayme stood stock-still. “I.. I… I hope I’m ready for this, Daniel. How’d you find him so quickly?” Was she really going back to Horseshoe Wall? Back to the very spot Donald was attacked. Would she be able to face it without panic setting in and taking over?
“Turns out your Miguel is my cousin. He remembers you. And he says he knows that you want to go there.. And why. He also said he wonders why you’ve waited so long. Is there something you should tell me about this place, Jayme, as your dive master, I mean.” Daniel dusted the sand off his hands as he deflated the BC’s and stacked the air tanks, giving her much needed time to think.
“What is this place, Jayme?” Marge’s gaze had shifted to one of genuine concern, her eyes darting back and forth between the two during their exchange. “Is it dangerous?” She hadn’t known Jayme very long, but what she did know told her Jayme was oddly shaken.
“No. No, not really,” Jayme tried to busy herself with rinsing and packing her equipment while she collected her thoughts. “It’s the place where my husband was attacked by the shark five years ago. Miguel was our dive guide then. I’m sure he wouldn’t consent to go back if he felt it unsafe.” She tried to give them a confident smile, but it fell just short of sincerity with her mind racing in all directions. “By the way, Daniel, why are you so willing to take Marge and Jim back out? Resort dives are usually a one shot deal.”
“That’s true, Jayme, but I really was impressed with the way they handled themselves today. What harm would it do to give them an extra dive?” He turned to the two anxious elderly people, and shook his finger at them good naturedly, “Now you two better get plenty of rest tonight. Tomorrow’s dive will be extra demanding.” He hesitated, “Oh, I forgot to ask. Do you want to go out on another dive tomorrow?” Marge and Jim just beamed, nodding their heads, afraid to talk.