July 2000, Giles Morgan
On the first day of our holiday we'd given the lifeguard on duty a heart attack because he thought we'd drowned. We had tried to explain to him that we didn't need snorkels or scuba equipment to go diving but he hadn't believed us. By the time we'd finally surfaced, he'd called the bobbies on us.
Major had arranged to spend a little over a week in O'ahu, Hawai'i. We were enjoying warm water and hot sand; having lived in England for most of my life the nearly thirty degree Celsius weather I was mafted. The house Major had rented from a mate for the week backed right up to the beach. The vacation house smelled of the plumeria's that grew under the front windows. There was a boozer in the local area that served amazing nachos. We had taken the motorway around the island whilst we were here to see the sights. Dad had made sure that we visited the Pearl Harbor WWII memorials, Diamond Head volcano, and one luau.
Before sunrise I walked out onto the white sandy beach and into the turquoise waters wearing nought but my cozzy, mesh diving bag, and knife. My cozzy was a pair of white, bagging board shorts that reached my knees. On one side of the beach, away from the house, were towering ironwood trees. The waves were typically calm and low here, breaking fairly close to shore. The lack of mint waves meant that there usually weren't surfers at this particular three mile stretch of beach. There were hundreds of different kinds of fish here and green sea turtles.
I waded out into the water and soon I was swimming along the bottom of the white sand. I had nicked a few sea shells while free diving in the deeper parts of the ocean. We had discovered that the Waho shelf off of the spit of land called Ka'ena Point was quiet but entertaining. Major told me that the shelf was five hundred feet beneath the water. It wasn't the deepest we could dive since we had the advantage of gills and skin that could absorb oxygen from the water but it was deeper than we'd ever been able to swim in the United Kingdom. The coasts of England were cold enough to freeze off a brass monkey's ball sack. It was too sodding cold for long, deep diving without a wetsuit to keep warm but the wetsuits strangled us by blocking our ability to breathe through our skin.
I swam past the sandbank and the reef, where the bottom of the ocean floor turned to jagged rock. There was nout better than the clean, clear ocean we'd found here. Although, I thought anything was better than public swimming baths. The chlorine was bloody impossible for us to process; it burned our skin and gills. I don't fancy bloody fire water. The Academy had installed a freshwater swimming pool with an ultraviolet light purification system and a combination industrial sand and diatomaceous earth filter so that I could swim. There was also an ultraviolet light and reverse osmosis system installed in the Academy subbasement to clear the chlorine from the tap water. The Academy was one of the few places where I could shower regularly.
One of the things I appreciated about diving and swimming in general was that all of my peculiarities were advantages here, or at least not disadvantages. What made me a heteroclite was an aquatic adaptation, meaning I was more suited to a seascape than my bog standard brethren. My protanomaly or red-blindness is a non-issue down here; nout is red in the ocean. All of my artwork on this trip had been seascapes inspired by the local culture and the deep diving we'd been doing. It wasn't quite the same for me as for others. When my face is submerged underwater my skin lights up in stripes to illuminate my surroundings. My webbed fingers and toes help me swim faster than my mates.
The many small, dark fish didn't mind me much even with my bioluminescent skin. I wanted a couple of the large white and yellow To'au fish, though, for dinner. We'd been advised by some of the locals that these fish made a decent meal and they were a threat to the waters so we grabbed them when we had the chance. Lucky for me these fish were curious rather than easily spooked so I hadn't needed a spear gun to fish. Once I caught a To'au or Blacktail Snapper I held it in one hand and released the diving knife strapped to my arm from its sheath with the other to stab the fish in the top of the head. When I had two of them in my diving bag I headed back to the shore.
Major was waiting for me when I returned, standing out on the white sand with his fists on his hips. Major was tall, a couple inches shy of six feet, and he was on the light side for an airman. I had his skinny frame and I hoped I'd end up with his musculature. He'd told me that when he'd been young he had almost been too underweight. He had fought for every pound over the Air Force's minimum restriction with daily workouts. After Major retired he slacked off a tad.
"You were out for a long time," his eyes were narrowed.
"It's the ocean, Major," I was amused, "It's the last place you need to worry about me."
"I thought we might try to learn surfing today," he continued, "What do you think?"
Major was learning to ask my opinion lately. He'd spent so many years in the military that he was used to giving orders rather than asking for input or collaboration.
"Fine by me," I held up my diving bag, "I caught another couple of these gits for our dinner."
"You know what to do with them by now," he said, turning to go back inside, "Make sure you dry off first."
The house had an outdoor rain shower that my dad's mate had installed himself. I liked it because tap water had a tendency to sting and dry me out. I had used it instead of the inside shower after my daily swim in the ocean. I don't use cleansers or soaps, just fresh warm water. My skin is too sensitive for me to lather up, douse myself in deodorants, or mosey around in a cloud of artificial fragrance. Thankfully my father doesn't have hardly any ability to grow facial hair so I probably won't ever have to deal with shaving or aftershave.
After I rinsed and dried off I went into the kitchen and found Major was making Toad-in-the-Hole for breakfast. Dad had already toasted bread and cut out holes in the middle. It was one of my favorites. I noticed there was a bag of taters in the corner.
"I'll make fish and chips tonight and we'll be quits," I rinsed the fish in the sink across the kitchen from Major.
"I'm just making breakfast; it's not a debt, Gill," he cracked an egg into each bread hole, "It's what I do because I'm your father."
"Sure, whatever," I told him as I wrapped the fish in waxed parchment. I tossed the fish into a bowl with ice and put the bowl in the fridge.
"Thanks for the fish," Major added before he laid a slice of cheese on each egg and then the covered the cheesy eggs with the bread rounds.
"Champion breakfast," I replied, flashing a grin. I was almost afraid to say anything else. This conversation was the best one we'd had in ages. I went to pull plates and flatware for the two of us.
"Did you know this is my favorite breakfast?" I asked, as I put the kettle on for tea.
"No," Dad looked surprised as he set down my plate on the high counter, "I know it's a staple food for your mother and her family, though. I thought a little bit of British food might go over well and this didn't sound difficult to cook."
"Cheers," I told him as I hopped up onto a stool at the breakfast bar.
"You've been living in Colorado for about three years now. What do you miss most?" he asked me.
"I miss back bacon and black pudding," I told him, since I was thinking about breakfasts, then I added, "I miss mum. She doesn't call as often since she met that bloke."
"Jack is her husband now. She may be busy as a newlywed," Dad said, ""Maybe we'll go visit them next year."
I remembered when she'd just been engaged Major had told me she was just busy planning the wedding. I figured I could see the writing on the wall clear enough. Being a single mum had really thrown a spanner in the works but now I was out of the way of tossers who didn't want to be my step-father.
"Nah," I told him, trying to sound casual, "I'm going to miss the beaches here too much. She should visit us and see the Academy."