Relax

Something Shona from White Arrow said caught me.

Lu had just finished her Monday sketching class. I like this Outschool class. To be honest, I think I like it more than she does. Oh well.

Shona happened to be round Quest while Lu was doing her class. Shona is a keen artist, though she calls it ‘too-tooing’ around. Haha. She is too good at too-tooing.

Lu’s class had been looking at perspective. She’d drawn the figure the teacher had given them to try. She showed it to us. Shona said it then.

‘You need to relax now.’

I looked up. ‘What do you mean, relax?’

She pointed to Lu’s figure. The legs and body. ‘To stop trying to get it so precise, and see it in blocks of pure shapes, she needs to relax. Relax her eyes.’

Aha. I remembered her words when, a couple of hours later, I joined the night dive crew. There were five us of – back on the wreck, the Pamir. This time I’d graduated from boat cover to fellow diver. Gavin had found a flashing light that would replace me in the dinghy. Awesome.

I haven’t been on a night dive for 20 years. It is almost exactly 20 years this summer. And the last time I did a night dive, I was circled by sharks off the Coral Sea in Australia. Yay. No problem. I’m still here, aren’t I?

We had to jump into a black sea off the dive boat in Australia. This time we had to roll in off Edna. We still went into a black sea. There was the inevitable bit – where you sort your gear out, replace your regulator with your snorkel – and stare into the water. Into the darkness.

‘Look Ma, do you see the sparkle when when move your fins?’

I looked down into the water at Lu’s sparkly phosphorescent fins as she kicked. She was right and bless her, trying to make me feel better. Still, just past her feet was darkness.

Our visual fields narrowed to their base minimum. We switched our torches on. Your eyes follow this beam of light down. It was like carrying a light sabre. When we descended, we all followed the light. Clung to it.

Settling on the bow of the wreck, flashing the torches around, we could see the wreck in front of us. Was it different during the night compared to day time?

It seemed quieter to me. The sergeant major fish who usually go crazy protecting their purple patches of eggs on the wreck were no where to be seen. Some of the corals polyps had opened in the darkness, including the beautifully orange sun corals. A few crayfish were out and about too – which was surprising. I didn’t realise they were so nocturnal.

We hugged the wreck as we swam around it. I didn’t really want to point my torch into the distance. Just focus on what was ahead. And relax. Shona’s words again. Relax your eyes. You can see more.

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