The wind whispered into my ears as I stood there, hands on the railing, staring down at the still waters below. Their surface was smooth, like a freshly cleaned glass window. You see, I was on a ship—a research vessel, more precisely. I was on my way to what would become my home for the next several months. Thinking back on this, I was unsure as to why exactly I had agreed to this. Perhaps the thrill of adventure? I had always admired archaeologists, tomb raiders, and the like. Such an exciting contrast to my paper-pushing habits. Or maybe it was the need to get away from my life back home—even if only for a few months. I have always wanted to pick up and move. Though fear has always withheld my departure from my life as I knew it. But I knew that it was something more than that. I was running to something, rather than from it.
More accurately: I was running to him. The man that sat just inside the window behind me, speaking and laughing with one of the other researchers. I glanced over my shoulder, gazing upon his well sculpted cheekbones, the way his smile revealed tight lines across his face, and the way that his warm brown eyes laughed as he told the punch-line. A small smile spread across my face before I looked out across the open waters again. I don’t believe that the glass would be able to withstand my intrusion. There was not much to support it. I had always had a little bit of a fear of them, you know—these open waters. There was nothing to hold on to if one were to fall in. Or if one was swept away by the currents. Not to mention the fact that the bottom was impossible to see—especially at this time of night when the waters are darker than the sky. Yes, I have always had a phobia, a fear, of being in the ocean. Even standing on the boat made me a little nervous, though infinitely less nervous than the thought of plunging headfirst over the railing.
My knuckles tightened into fists at the thought of it. “There you are,” a voice behind me spoke and caused me to jump. He laughed, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me closer to him. “Sorry, darling.” He kissed my cheek. “Why are you out here anyway? All the fun is inside.”
“I’m enjoying the warm weather before we’re stuck inside for three months,” I teased, the taste of a chuckle lingering on my tongue.
“It won’t be that bad. We’re going down in the summer time.” This time I laughed.
“Summer in Antarctica makes the snowstorms back home feel like sandstorms.”
“Yeah, but you get to work with me every single day.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me!”
“Hey now.” I smiled, kissing him lightly on the lips. “That’s much better.” We stood in silence for a few moments, watching the waters below. “It’s peaceful, isn’t it?”
“Wanna take a swim? Frank’s setting anchor for the night.” The thought of it made me shiver—though I fought to keep that fear down inside. He did not notice. Instead, he was waiting for an answer. I slowly nodded. He broke out in a grin, kissing my temple. Then he went to speak to Frank and convince him to drop the anchor here, where the water was still nice and warm. While he was gone, I stared out at the waters, trying to convince myself that there was nothing to fear about a little water and some salt. Rick would be with me—he would not let any harm come to me. But, still, that little voice in my head insisted that this was a foolish idea that would end up with one of us being hurt in some terrible, irreversible way. Surely the broken glass would create some sort of bloodshed. I silently prayed that it would not be my own.
Before I could talk myself out of it completely, the boat had stopped, and Rick was back on the deck at my side. “Alright, we’re good to go,” he said cheerfully. He stripped down to his boxers before jumping right off the side of the ship down into the water. I held my breath. All that I could see with my mind’s eye was a spreading pool of crimson—and no Rick. I panicked, staring intently at the rippling waters until his head broke the surface once more. “Come on, honey, the water’s warm!”
Hesitantly, I pulled my shirt over my head and wiggled out of my jeans. My sandals slipped off silently. And, then, without so much as a second thought, I plunged into the water. It was warm, almost comforting. My face broke through the surface, lungs filling with air again. I had not died. The still black waters had withheld no information. They had not shattered and severed our flesh so severely that our hemoglobin coated her freshly cleaned surfaces until we had no excess blood to shed. Adrenaline hit my brain, causing an intoxicated smile to break across my face as I looked over at Rick, who was floating on his back beside me. He grinned back, lacing his fingers through mine.
It was then that the tides became my second home—second only to his heart.