The roar of the dive boat's engine fell silent. The signal was given, and I was sent to the back of the boat. The drop off the boat is where it all began - the eternal drop into nothing, the three-foot fall that seemed to last forever. Leaning back off the bobbing boat, the Australian sky became a haze, streaking across my eyes as I fell like a shooting star. Hitting the water, I felt a rush of adrenaline and fright as the cold dug into me. Descending felt like dropping down into a bottomless black pit. I felt almost as if I were part of the sea; I was scuba diving.
I looked around and saw my friends, Ben and David, swimming away from me. I followed aimlessly, without a sense of direction, yet I had an odd sense that I knew what was happening. Becoming more comfortable, I gazed at the reef and it actually became a thrill. Hundreds of colored fish darted by at every angle. Trenches that descended along the reef's canyon walls held glaring eels, and often giant fish swam close by, forcing me to swim over them.
Sometimes sharks appeared. They were not a rare sight, but were definitely the greatest fish to see. They would grasp my attention and make me scared, and in turn, I would breathe faster which used more of my air. Sharks came and went like flashes of light. I had fun chasing after them until they exasperated me. Mystic creatures that still remain nameless appeared at every turn. Everything down there was as colorful as stained glass. The Great Barrier Reef was a rainbow, and so inviting. What was at the end, a pot of gold? I stared at it for so long that I became entranced, not paying attention to anything else. I glided through the water watching the coral and giant clams as big as a door.
The air from my regulator became wet and heavy, it was like breathing through a damp cloth. I swam on casually, until the air got even thicker. Finally, the thought that I might be almost out of air hit me. Panic set in, and the water closed in on me from all sides. I was a prisoner in the mysterious place I had dared to seek a thrill in. I looked at my air gauge and it was almost empty. I was 65 feet under, and frozen with fear. I frantically searched to find Ben or David for spare air, but they were gone.
Adrenaline pumped faster as I started to swim to the surface. The air was so heavy now, I couldn't hold it. Kicking toward the surface, with my heart pounding in my chest, ascending into daylight and out of the darkness of the ocean was all I could think about. My only desire was to breathe air again, but the water held me with such a force I thought I couldn't make it. Finally, breaking the surface and emerging from the depths, I took the longed for breath my entire life depended on.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.