The man dove from the cliff of black lava in an inlet of steep black rocks topped with green trees and moss and ferns. He dove into churning ocean water that was blown by high winds from a sea storm, the water grey and choppy and whorling and spraying high up and around the rock bases.
One sentinel rock stood alone, farther out in the water, apart from the line, seeming to keep its watch of the events.
When the man splashed in, the water was much colder than the usual warm sea, and the currents began with him immediately, not deterred at all in their business of negotiating the complex little bay. And he dove after the current, planning to follow suit.
No one ever advised going into that uncertain area of the coast, and not at all in the current conditions. But he didn’t see it that way. He’d lived in this land most of his life and saw the situation as another, although particular, area of a coast he had known forever. He should then find it no more mistakable than the rest.
The closer he got to the rock sides, the higher the waves went, and he followed them in the fashion he’d come to generate over all the years. He was sure he was doing as proposed and as he planned, since the waves carried him up and about a number of times without anything he would call an incident.
But none of what was there paid him any heed and consequently did its own thing. He was soon doing only the same. He followed suit, but not his suit.
Before long he was diverted and delayed in an undertow, and though he did have experience in orienting amid rocks in and above water, again his interpretation was different than that of the moving water. He found himself near and then apart rocks without sufficient warning and without indication of where to apply his instinct.
This carried on for some time, without any other indication of how it might alter.
And then, like floating pebbles and giant bubbles amid the swirling shallows, a line of sea turtles paddled into view under the surface, and, in another instant, flew above and near him in half-silhouette in the murk and shadows, the turtles’ undersides evident with wings that flapped occasionally in the water’s sweep. The expressionless faces of the animals would likely show nothing in any occasion, but they didn’t seem anything like agitated, and the dark eyes in the water seemed to make routine checks of their surroundings.
The man’s own abilities for recognition kicked in and he noticed the to and fro of the team of animals and their kick and tip. The man swam, taking stock as well at each turn, almost as if in a dream or meditation. He watched the turtles flow like seeds ahead and around him, and, although he had to scramble at times and do his best, nevertheless, to catch up, he watched the turtles funnel out along the rock sides and into the open water, and he wasted no time in getting himself out as far as he could in it. And he was exhausted.
He turned to look into shore and saw the spray and melee in the water of the inlet and the even higher sea chop along the shore than in the water where he was now. Around the tip of the inlet rocks was a coastal cliff of black and green and in the opposite direction green-forested inland and black sand beaches. In that direction, the wind over the water was against him, taking him away from the trees and black sand and out toward the cliff side, where there was no sign of landings.
He took a moment to take stock of the situation, then turned again out to sea. From behind the sentinel rock he saw the white triangle of a sail board, bouncing back and forth along the waves and running into the wind, making way opposite to the wind and the low scud of the dark ocean clouds. Another dare devil was out and about and stamping on the water.
The rider was close enough to catch sight of the swimmer, and the swimmer used his strength to paddle across the water and to reach the sail board and rest.