Horseshoe Wall. Am I really going back? Jayme wondered. She was stunned by the news Daniel had found Miguel – and so quickly! Examining her motives for the dive, now that it was imminent, it was almost as if she had hoped Miguel was gone from the islands, that without him, the dive wouldn’t mean the same, and she could go back home and honestly tell herself she tried, without ever having to really do it. Was that what was really going on in her mind? Was she so afraid to face the past? To let it go, for once and for all? Jayme sighed. She’d never know now if she was trying to take the cowards way out, by insisting Miguel be there. Tomorrow she would dive the wall again, and with Miguel.
As Jayme heaved her heavy dive bags onto the charter boat, she silently compared the two men eagerly taking her equipment. Cousins? Must be very distant cousins! Where Daniel was blue-eyed, sandy haired and muscular, Miguel was much as she remembered him, small, about her size, wiry and dark.
Jayme jumped down into the rocking boat from the metal and wood dock with practiced agility.
“Hi, Jayme!” giving her a warm hug, “At first I was going to say you haven’t changed a bit, “ Miguel smiled at her, his white teeth gleaming in the morning sun. “But you have.”
“Oh? In what way?” Jayme was curious. It had been five years, what could he possibly remember of her to know if she‘d changed or not? Her and Donald had been with him daily for two weeks, sure, but it was still five years ago!
“I’m not quite sure,” he drew the words out slowly, examining her exquisite bronzed face in minute detail. “It’s not your face,” he finally said, “or the rest of you.” Miguel’s eyes followed the slim contours of her figure down to her trim ankles and back up, then smiled. “No, all of that is just as if time has stood still for you. You have an ageless beauty, Jayme, I bet no one ever guesses your real age!”
“Well, if I’m so unchanging, Miguel, what’s different about me?” Jayme was enjoying his honesty.
“My eyes?” Now she was confused. “What about my eyes?” Suddenly Jayme wasn’t sure if she wanted to hear the rest of this.
“They’ve aged, not you. They’re wise, yet sad, lonely and lost. They’re… haunted. You hide it well from others I bet, but not from yourself.” Miguel’s black eyes searched her green ones for a flicker of denial.
Jayme just stared at him, not knowing what to say, her heart beating erradically. Miguel was right, of course, but she could never admit to that.
“I guess that’s why I’m here, isn’t it, Jayme? To help you exorcise what ever ghosts you feel are still out there on that wall? That’s okay. I don’t mind. I have a few to deal with myself. You see, Donald is the only diver I’ve ever lost. I’ve known all these years that I wouldn’t be able to put that behind me… until you did. I’ve been waiting for you to return, Jayme. Welcome back…” Miguel reached out for Jayme and gave her another friendly hug. A sob caught in her throat as Jayme returned the embrace.
“Then let’s do it!” she whispered.
The day was as perfect as only a Caribbean morning could be. The cloudless sky promised an endless abundance of sunshine, as the fiery sun made it’s way slowly overhead. Jayme stretched her arms out behind her, bracing herself against the easy jolts as the boat skimmed across the gentle waves. Turning, she reached for her sun screen. Deeply bronzed though she may be, Jayme knew it was still easy to burn out on the water. Applying a generous coating of #15 block, she watched the Thomas’ through lowered lashes.
They had arrived on the docks at the agreed upon time, anxious and ready for another dive. Everyone laughed as Jim told how Marge had kept him up until midnight talking about the different fish they’d seen. “Over night, she becomes an expert!”
Now, they sat hand in hand, reviewing procedures with Daniel. Since Daniel had suggested they come along, he readily accepted responsibility for them. Daniel knew there was something special happening today. This was Jayme’s dive, the rest of them were merely bystanders.
“A private charter is expensive, Jayme. You could have just booked on one of my regular runs. I would have brought you out here,” Miguel gazed out over the ocean, not really expecting a reply.
“Let’s just say I have a rather…. generous.. expense account, “ Jayme mused. “And even if I didn’t, I can afford it. Money is only a means to get what you want and need, right? Right here and now, I need to dive that wall. Something is waiting for me out there, Miguel, I can feel it. It’s kind of hard to explain, but whatever it is…” Jayme trailed off, her sea green eyes reflecting the ocean blue.
“Destiny. Your destiny waits for you, Jayme. All you have to do is be ready to seize it.” Miguel pushed off from his seat and started toward the boat captain.
“Wait,” Jayme pleaded, grabbing his arm. “Were you always so prophetic?”
Miguel’s mouth tilted in a knowing smile. “Islanders have always been able to look beyond the obvious, Jayme. Just wait, you’ll see I’m right. Are you filming today?” When she shook her head no, the smile broadened. “See, this dive is for you, you don’t need to hide behind the camera. Time to suit up, we’re almost there.” He turned then to give directions to the captain.
Jayme had prepared her gear earlier, leaving only her dive skins and neoprene suit to put on. The dive skins were a light, full body ‘bathing suit’, meant to protect the diver from coral abrasions. The slightly heavier neoprene suit would keep her from losing too much body heat at the deep depths they would be going. Although Caribbean diving was warm, the water was still ten degrees cooler than the average human body, and the body tended to lose heat quickly in the water, especially after repeated exposure. Her lightweight suit now hung casually around her thin waist, waiting for the final shut down of the boat engines.
“Okay. Listen up. We have a real simple dive plan today. Marge and Jim, you two will stay with Daniel on the upper edge of the reef in about 40 feet of water. Whatever he says, goes. Understand?” they nodded silently. “Jayme and I will do the wall. Any questions? Let’s go!”
Jayme slid down into the warm water, allowing herself to be captivated by the sunlight dancing on the surface, flickering like a million diamonds scattered in the wind. As the pressure began to build in her ears, Jayme absentmindedly held her nose and equalized the pressure. Down she drifted, building distance between her and the rippling surface. She turned her attention toward Miguel. He hovered slightly below her, asking a question with his thumb and forefinger touching. Jayme mimicked the sign, indicating she was okay.
Settling down on the sandy bottom next to the coral heads, Jayme and Miguel waited for Daniel to arrive with Jim and Marge. Blue wrasse flickered in the sunlight, darting in and around the sea fans, catching bits of food floating in the mild currents. Daniel slowly descended, giving the two older divers plenty of time to equalize the pressure in their ears, and to acclimate to the gentle pressure on their bodies. A surge of vertigo was common with new divers in open water where the visibility was unlimited. The patient dive master kept careful watch on his charges as they came to a stop in the milky white sand near the other two. Jayme glanced over at the Thomas’. Marge waved at her, then gave her the okay sign, which Jayme returned. She then turned back to a waiting Miguel, and together they glided over the corals where the wall began. With one last look at the trio, Jayme signaled to Miguel then jack knifed her body and dove for the deeper blue depths.
The coral structures became more profound the deeper they went, and the aquatic life thinned out. Ever fascinated by the intricate structure of the corals, time slipped by the duo. Pressing ever downward, Jayme felt a gentle tug on her arm. Turning, she saw Miguel, gages in hand, shaking is finger at her. She picked up her computer console and only then realized she had descended to 110 feet. They would have to ascend to a shallower depth, and soon, to escape a lengthy decompression stop. Jayme noted too, that she was down to 1200 pounds of air. She indicated as such to Miguel and they started upward to start their multi-level decompression. Jayme glanced longingly at the underwater wall, realizing how much she missed seeing when she was busy behind a camera.
The threesome were still in the same general area as expected, inspecting the coral tunnels at 35 feet. Jayme reached into one of her BC pockets and brought out more ham strips, handing the baggie to Daniel. As the couple were lost in a veil of yellow jacks, Jayme backed away to watch.
The pain struck hard and fast, jerking her off balance and sending her mind reeling toward blackness. As she turned, confused, she saw a rising cloud coming from her arm. Blood. No! Her mind screamed. This can’t be happening! This is just like The Dream, only Jayme knew she wasn’t dreaming this time.