ANDREW had a theory that sometimes the water called to you, and you had to answer it. So when experienced sailors disappeared, just a white sail flickering on the horizon and gone, and when a cold sober vacationer slipped over the side for seemingly no reason, it meant that the water had called for them. Andrew’s own experience on deck lay somewhere between those two extremes. He loved it out here, but he left the rigging to Shane and John, both ten years his senior and in actual possession of a boat. Andrew, nineteen years old and native to this stretch of coastline, wasn't sure why he deliberately kept himself a tourist in some ways. Maybe he feared the call of the water.
It wasn’t a rough sea that day. The swells were gentle and the water danced with eye-stinging scales of light. He’d climbed to the front, crossing his gangling legs—John once said Andrew was nothing but legs and big brown eyes, though he was finally starting to fill out some—on the dry, chipped white fiberglass as the boat rode the glittering surface, listening to the creaking sound of the gear, the gentle boom of the boat slapping the water. The air smelled of salt and kerosene. Andrew turned to grin back at Shane, who was coiling a rope, and when Shane looked up to meet his eyes and smile back, the boat seemed to hiccup, and Andrew was falling.
Cold water always seemed much harder than warm, and the Pacific was icy that day. Andrew felt it like a hammer to the side of his body as he hit, the water rushing around him hungrily. He kicked out, trying to aim away from the boat, but disoriented by the sunlight through the water, he ended up striking downward. The colors shifted from light-spangled darkness to an even blue. The initial shock gave way to chastened fear as he struck out harder, and then he realized he was headed downward. He turned in the water, aiming for the shifting reflection of the sun. A sudden blue shadow overwhelmed his eyes just before his head struck the hull.
…a chaos of fluttering water removed itself from a pair of startling blue eyes, scaled with sunlight in a fiercely wild face….
“Andrew! Andrew, are you okay? Jesus, turn him over!”
Andrew vomited water onto the deck and coughed, feeling the salt chafe his lungs and throat as they tried to work, his body wracked with sudden consciousness. Hands braced his chilled skin as he pressed his cheek to the wet boards. “Fuck. What happened?”
Shane helped him up, and John was looking at him, gripping his chin and gazing clinically into his eyes. “You’re okay, but Christ fuck, you gave us a fucking scare, man. How did you do that?”
“How did I do what?”
Shane’s eyes were nearly bugging out of his head, and the lingering trace of his Australian accent thickened, as it did sometimes when he was startled. “Drew, you just fell into the water and, I swear, I honestly truly swear, you just jumped right back out, spit onto the deck. Except you were unconscious. When you, er, jumped.”
Andrew coughed wretchedly. “I did what?”
John shook his head, his normally impassive black eyes troubled. “It was like the fucking ocean threw you back.”
Andrew stared out at the water, remembering blue eyes. “The fuck.”
John grinned at him. “I guess it thought you were too small.”