499. - Lucien
I wake up before she does. For a blissful few seconds, I observe her sleeping figure. The past couple of days have been rough on me, taking up most of my mental capacity. It took the small moments from me, like watching Emma drink her tea while petting Frank or a few short minutes behind the piano with my favourite piece. And of course this: watching her chest rise and fall, limbs tangled in the white sheets, her face nothing but peaceful.
As quietly as I can I slip out of the bed, the tiles cool beneath my feet. When Emma said we were free yesterday, she was absolutely right. On this island there is nothing to bind us except our own free will. Both body and mind feel lighter here, like we've left everything of the past few weeks on the ground back in Edinburgh. Time doesn't exist and neither does pressure. We got ourselves a couple of groceries yesterday, planning to drive down to one the bigger ones after breakfast so we can stack up for a couple of days. I've been told that it's pretty much like the hypermarkets that are common back in France, which feels entirely appropriate for a holiday like this.
With what we got yesterday I make us breakfast in bed; French toast, some fresh fruit and a nice cup of coffee. By the time I carry the tray into the bedroom, Emma has just woken up: she's sitting up, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, and the bun she fell asleep with hangs lopsided.
"Bonjour, mon amour. Bienvenue dans le monde des vivants."
"Mhmm…" She smiles as she stretches out. "Good morning to you, too."
Carefully balancing the tray in my hands I sit down on her side of the bed where she scoots over for me. A kiss is shared, just briefly, before her attention turns to the tray. "You're almost making it feel like it's a honeymoon."
I smirk at her. "Mind you, it's five hundred and eighty-six days without an engagement. If this is a honeymoon, it's a little premature."
I've rented a 4x4 for us to get around on this island. The car is ridiculously big, the kind of car you'd drive to compensate if you drove it in the city, but the roads are rough so it's a very welcome piece of machinery. After shopping groceries and stocking the small kitchen, we get changed to go scuba diving. Emma's pulled up an Internet-page with all the things we might meet below sea level, which really sounds quite promising. But with Emma never having dived before, the real fun might have to wait a day until she gets down the basic, depending how quickly she picks up on it. On the drive down her I go over the basic rules with her, to give her a head start.
As it turns out, and as I secretly already knew, Emma is a quick learner. Our instructor speaks only broken English, but since I've been certified for years I'm able to fill in the gaps when needed. We're hoisted into our rented gear when Emma shoots me a look. "I'm surprised you don't have your own gear." She teases, and I chuckle.
"I do, actually, but it hasn't been checked in a while so I didn't bother lugging it to the plane. But if you get certified as well, you best believe I'm working an annual diving trip into our schedules."
"You really are dead-set on taking me all across the world, are you?"
"Well… yeah." I shrug, for some reason feeling a wave of self-doubt wash over me. "There's still plenty that I haven't seen, and also a lot of places that I have seen but want to share with you. We have the opportunity, so why not take it?"
Her expressions softens to a smile, and she touches my cheek with a gloved hand. "As long as you're there with me."
"That was the plan, yes, to take you along. No use in showing you the world if you're not there for it."
"Oh, shut it, you smart-ass!" With a surprisingly powerful flick of her hand she splashes me with water, but the cool of it is really very welcome under the basking sun. I check both our gear, our instructor having left to help others and apparently trusting me, and come to the conclusion we're good to go. I gesture for her to wade deeper into the water. While the island offer several gorgeous diving spots, including a shipwreck and a reef a couple of miles of the coast, I figured we'd take it easy for our first dive so we're just staying near the shore. There is still plenty to be seen.
"Remember that despite your reflexes, you -"
"- shouldn't hold your breath. We've been over it plenty, Luce. I also know the sign for when I'm in trouble so you can come help me out." She raises a brow at me. "I'm going to be fine. I dealt with Callum in court, I can deal with this, too."
"Alright, alright." I chuckle, helping her place the mask on correctly. A few moments later we both engage the octos, ready to go under. Just when I'm about to, Emma grabs my hands. I wink at her, squeezing them as we dip below the waves together. I keep a close eye on her as we both adjust, but she seems to be doing fine. She doesn't let go of my hand yet, though, which is entirely okay. We decend together, already a whole new world revealing itself around us. Brightly coloured fish that swim around us lazily, schools of tiny silver fish that dart one way and the suddenly the other. Coral and seaweed dancing in the current, crabs scattering over the ocean floor. I dare take a glance at Emma, and it might be the best sight yet: her eyes are full of amazement, going every which way to take it all in. After a few moments I give her hand a gentle tug to get her to come along with me. We go a little further from the shore, diving close to the ocean floors so we can inspect the rocks and their hidden inhabitants. We meet a small, surprisingly friendly octopus, that crawls onto Emma's hand when she gets a little too close. It's nothing short of magical, and the time that our gauges announce two-thirds or our oxygen being gone comes far too quickly. As we ascend together, hands still engtangled, I'm met with a very vivid memory of being on the beach with my mother. I'm thirteen, and we can still live a mostly normal life with her, so we're making the most of our vacations. I've been snorkeling for hours, amazed by the beautiful world that lives beneath the waves, and when I finally get out my mother takes her face in both her suntanned hands, kisses my forehead and calls me son petit garçon sirène.
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