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The narrator discovers the underwater wonders of a coral reef in Bermuda

Shhhhh . . .

Water slaps the shore and whispers back. I snap on my snorkel and clumsily splash into the sun-spangled shallows.

“Come on!” Dad gently calls to me.

“Okay, hang on!” I laugh, pulling on my flippers.

As I bend over, I feel the hot sun on my back. As I look down, the aquamarine water catches my eye. I spot the rowdy tendrils of sand, the color of boiled shrimp, weaving in between my feet and then being sucked out by the power of the ocean. A tiny wave crashing around my feet catches my attention, and I trace it out to Dad, who is beckoning.

“Here I am!” I exclaim, bounding into the water.

The water soon reaches my waist and then neck as I waddle out to my dad. I flop down, face first. The salty water closes over my head as I elegantly slice through the ocean. The top of my head bobs up, and I lie there, still as a statue. Huhhh . . . shhhhh, my snorkel whispers as I breathe. Dad grasps my arm and pulls me along like a tiny tugboat. I space out as I think about making epic sandcastles and splashing in the shallows.

I think about coming from the hotel on a bus and spotting the beige sign

Welcome to Bermuda in the airport when we arrived.

I think of Dad saying, “What should we do first, head to the beach?” and grinning as I planned what I would do there.

I think of reading my books in the sun-soaked chair next to Mum. I think of Dad saying, “Do you want to swim to a coral reef?”

“Yes, okay!”

I stare down at the silty sand, now tinged a vivid rose. The warm blue water lulls me into a half-sleep.

*          *          *

My father’s thumb nudges me back to my senses. I look up and gasp. Whooshhh! goes my snorkel, matching my surprise. I can’t look anywhere else. A beautiful reef looms under me. It has brain corals the color of a snail’s underbelly, emerald tendrils of soft, rubbery tissue, tarnished gold anemones, and pink finger corals. It’s utterly stunning.

I suck in a deep breath and dive down, circling the reef, immersing myself in the silent wonder of this place. I spot hidden caverns in the rock where little fish dart like shimmering silver fairies. It’s like everyone and everything has a place they want to go, but they are not in a hurry to get there. There’s constant bustle, like a miniature city. The soft sand gleams from below while the sun’s rays shimmer, tinged blue-silver by the water. The gray rock of the reef contrasts sharply with the bright colors of the coral and seaweed. It looks like a rainbow mixed with a smile and a wink.

Moody Moon

I suddenly realize that I can’t stay down in this world forever and hurriedly swim back up to the surface. My head breaks the surface, and Dad says, “How do you like it?”

“Good,” I splutter.

I stick my head under this time, just below the surface.

There is a flicker, a swish, and a massive parrotfish appears before me. He’s mainly emerald green, but little explosions of melon-y gold shine through like tiny little sunsets. His beak is open in a constant smile. He turns sideways, glancing up at me through wide eyes, like he, too, is thinking, Who are you, strange creature? Suddenly, the world around me vanishes, leaving only me, the parrotfish, and the water. In my mind, we are worlds apart but still orbiting the same sun. It seems as though time itself has stopped. Then, I twitch, and in a silvery flash, he disappears.

*          *          *

As I swim back to the beach, my only thought is this other world I had no idea I could enter. I think of that rippling sense of magic the world revealed once it unlocked its gates and unfolded like a never-ending city. The bath-like water ripples past my cheeks and slips through my fingers as I glide through that planet of rose-gold sand and aqua water.

Suddenly, I know that this is my place: the ocean.