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Burnt Sky

The sky burnt the sea into a clear sweat pool. The white boat gently bobbed, its bow set and its stern swinging around in the slack current. Emerald rocks spired from the crashing surf not a hundred yards from the blazing white hull; the new rock of pummeled lava showed clearly through prism liquid sea, exposing cracked and creviced valleys and fissures; exploding colored darting fish schooled and angled their mirrored flanks against the sun, blinding and disorienting, expanding and contracting, snapping up mouthfuls of coral and plankton. The sharp knifed wings of the tern sketch parallel lined in the water as the bird skims the waves, eyeing fish shallow enough to touch the smooth surface, dropping its thin beak briefly past meniscus to pick off the unwary.

A sudden release of pressurized air startled the bird and it zig-zagged and arched away from the vessel; rising up and over its close fiberglass helm and stern. From that height, the stern appeared to be filled with brightly colored gumballs, attached by hoses, pressed into rows astride glassy benches. Three men press themselves into matte-blue one-piece neoprene suits, running water between the tight rubber, tugging zippers up and around rough torsos, wrestling body parts into their snug confines. A blond man sits before his pink tank and slips his arms under the metal shoulder harness, securing the belt tightly into his waist. A man with close-cropped gray hair helps him dead-lift the tank, straightening the hoses, and leads him to the back of the boat. There the blond sets the fins onto his feet, their long thin blue planes flexing and bowing into the water. He presses the mask to his face, gently placed the piece in his mouth, checks his air, and flings his body out and away into the

©1993 Chris Abraham