Such Great Heights an “R” Romance
By: Kassandra Dick
In around the isles of Unguja, the sea creatures were a blur of colour and shine. A lion fish swallowed a smaller fish in one bite and an octopus prowled along the ocean floor. Two green turtles were feasting on the algae of the reef, chomping lazily through the foliage, oblivious to the four dark shadows approaching from above. Only a pod of bottle nosed dolphins seemed to be aware that they were being watched.
The creatures were gliding with unusual shapes, their strange flippers fluttering limply in the water, their large eyes staring straight ahead of them. One curious dolphin approached the beings cautiously. Her mother whistled for her to return, but she ignored her. The yearly approached one individual from behind, and gave its fin an inquisitive nibble.
Charlotte felt something bite her flipper and she almost panicked. Kicking back, she spun round in the water and stared into the eye of a small dolphin, no longer than she was. She let go of one big air bubble, which rose out of her snorkel. The little devil squeaked at her and went up to investigate the bubble. Instinctively, she reached out to stroke it. Its smooth skin was like a baby’s cheek. That touch was too close for comfort though, and the dolphin peeled away toward its pod. Charlotte was out of air anyway. She rose slowly up to the surface and ejected whatever water was left in her tube before sucking in fresh, salty oxygen.
Charlotte hung there, treading water gracefully. The sun gave warmth and sparkle to the day. She closed her eyes, and laid back, basking in the light and breathing in the spray and the wind.
Nen surfaced and found himself struck by the sight of a mermaid, with her face thrown back to the sky. Fate had blessed him with an image so rare and delightful. Charlotte turned to him with a dreamy look. Nen grinned wide and the little mermaid smiled a small, secret smile, but she was looking over his shoulder.
Francisco broke the surface like a shark. He sputtered out water and laughed. “What a day.”
Nen closed his mouth, but the smile remained. He swam out of the way, but kept his eyes on Charlotte until his new friend swam to his side and clapped him on the back. “We’ve had it all, haven’t we, captain?”
Nen paused a moment, thinking about what he’d still like to have.
“Yes,” replied Charlotte for him. Firyali was a little ways away. She came out of the water and beckoned them to follow her back down. She had the whole pod of dolphins circling them now and she was amusing the family with her snorkel, she put it in her mouth upside down and gave a long burble of bubbles. The more playful animals blew out their own bubbles to intercept hers, while the watchful parents whistled from a safe distance.
Soon all four of them were playing bubble wars with the youngsters. They resurfaced and dove down for some time, laughing all the while, until Firyali took one look at the sky and said, “Back to the boat.”
Lightning struck the water a few hundred feet from the Silver Slipper and ripped a seam in the sky. Charlotte jumped, blinded by the light. She watched the violent strip of smoke dissipate, then turned to the people in the cabin with her. Francisco seemed not to notice, he was busy toweling off and changing his shirt. Nen was occupied with selecting the perfect drink for his guests. Firyali, however, looked to Charlotte with wide eyes. At least someone had seen that. They were anchored near the port of Zanzibar. A skittering of city lights, like fireflies from Charlotte’s hometown in Florida, flickered through the rain. They decided to remain on the craft, since they had all the food they could eat and they were safe to wait out the squall right there.
The excited pop of champagne cork was like a parody of the lightning strike. Nen poured four glasses and meandered over to the table. Charlotte observed his glistening skin, not black like Firyali’s, but instead the colour of gold-dusted chocolate. Just now, she had the image of taking a bite out of him. Nen’s eyes followed Charlotte as she took her champagne and drank deeply. Francisco and Firyali both noticed this look on Nen’s face. The two found their own eyes meeting across the table. Without expecting it, Firyali felt her lips parting. Francisco seemed to hold his arms around her when he held her gaze like this. She turned to Nen only when he was handing her a glass. She drank fully, her own throat suddenly dry.
Nen spoke as he gave Francisco a long-stemmed glass. “So, Charlotte, I’ve heard you are quite the adventurer. Congratulations on your ascent of Cerro Torre.”
“Thank you, Nen. It had been on my bucket list for a long time.” Charlotte still had to look down at her champagne.
“Yes, you enjoy mountains more than the water, I believe.”
There was a moment of silence and Firyali broke in, “What’s on your bucket list here in Tanzania?”
Charlotte answered shyly, “Well I had hoped to hike Kilimanjaro.” She watched for a reaction from her husband, but he smiled distantly at Firyali.
“Oh you want to climb the White Mountain?” chuckled Nen.
“Nen,” Firyali said sweetly to her husband, “you’re always saying you’d like to get me up there one day…”
Still smiling, Nen said, “Of course, my love. Shall we set off this evening?”
Ignoring his jibe, Firyali avowed, “We’ll head back to the mainland and begin in a few days. Look how excited Charlotte is to get back to the mountains. Enough of this water.” She waved her hand, gesturing around them.
Nen stroked his wife’s bare shoulder, “Of course. It would bring me so much joy.”
“Really?” Charlotte’s hand had gripped Francisco’s unconsciously. With a coy expression, Firyali nodded. She held up her glass in a toast.
“To adventure,” she called.
The men answered in unison, “To adventure.”
Raising her own glass, Charlotte declared, “To adventure.”
By: Kassandra Dick
- Essayist and Ghost Writer | ASAP PapersSeptember 2016 – PresentProviding expert advice and editing for ESL university students. Ghost writing research papers with clients.
- ESL Art instructor | Tamwood International CampsJune 2016 – PresentSeasonal Art instructor for international students ages 7-18, with varying degrees of English. Developed creative lesson plans based on student’s interests and abilities. Included cultural arts and crafts like Hieroglyphs, Dream Catchers, origami and Haida Art, as well as classic skills like pointillism, jewelry making, and collage.
- English Instructor, math instructor, study skills instructor | Beacon Literacy Inc.January 2012 – August 2014I provided individualized instruction for English (not ESL) learning for ages 5-18. Accent reduction classes for adults. Math for grades 1-6 and study skills for High school students, including time management, goal setting, review, and finding resources.