Breathing Underwater

Free Breathing Underwater by Julia Green

Book: Breathing Underwater by Julia Green Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julia Green
under his armpits to warm them up. ‘Time to head back.’ His voice is croaky.
    I don’t ask him about Huw again. His face is too red, and his eyes are watering; his breath labouring in his chest. He doesn’t look right; perhaps he’s got too cold. My own hands are freezing and my arms aching but I can’t ask him to row, so I get back into position, pick up the oars again.
    After a while, the splash of the oars dipping in and out, the trickle of drips from the tips of each paddle, begins to mesmerise me. My thoughts drift. I think about the world beneath us, down, down, down. Water washing stone, grinding it slowly into sand. There are stretches of sea-bed between the islands which used to be valleys with village settlements, thousands of years ago. The sea level has slowly risen, covering it all up. Deep down, a whole flooded life is metamorphosing into something else. Fish swim through the places where houses would once have been; eels slither over ancient doorsteps. I imagine our boat gliding over empty rooms, sand drifting and burying the remnants of people’s lives: old cooking pots, a small leather shoe, a string of beads. Sea levels are rising all the time. Faster now, with global warming and that. One day, this whole archipelago will be underwater. Nothing left.
    A rubber dinghy with a noisy outboard engine swings into view. Their wash rocks our boat violently, so we have to stop rowing and cling on to the sides. Gramps yells at them and they swerve away. Someone waves.
    â€˜Some lads from the campsite,’ he says. ‘With diving gear.’
    Izzy’s on the beach at Periglis, watching us come in. She helps us bring the boat back up to the slipway and turn it over to let the water drain. She flirts with Gramps and he loves it.
    â€˜I’m just about to go over to Beady Pool,’ Izzy says to me. ‘Looking for stuff, if you want to come.’
    I hesitate. I’m starving, for one thing, and then there’s Gramps. But he seems fine now we’re back on dry land. Only a bit wobbly. And there isn’t much to carry back, just the oars and life jackets.
    â€˜It’s all right. I’ll be heading back home,’ Gramps says. ‘You two go and enjoy yourselves.’
    We watch him walking slowly up to the path.
    â€˜He’s cool, your grandpa,’ Izzy says.
    I nod. ‘He goes a bit dreamy and odd sometimes.’
    â€˜I like odd ,’ Izzy says. ‘More interesting. Come on, then.’
    â€˜I should stop off and get some food really. I’m starving.’
    â€˜We can go via the shop. I’ve got money.’
    We spend all afternoon together at Beady Pool. The tide’s ebbing, so there’s the whole length of the sand and shingle for us to search along for bits and pieces for Izzy’s jewellery. We spread our treasures on a flat stone to dry in the sun: pieces of turquoise glass smoothed by the sea; fragments of orange weed, like coral when they’re dry; feathers; a skein of fine nylon rope, bright blue; shells with mother of pearl; tiny tortoiseshell cowries.
    â€˜I’ve looked a million times here for beads,’ I tell Izzy. ‘You know, like the beach is called after, from that shipwreck way back. How amazing that would be. You could charge the earth!’
    â€˜Our shells are just as pretty.’ Izzy arranges them into patterns on the stone. She sits down on the sand, starts drawing with her bare foot. I watch her. I can’t help it. I’ve been like this all afternoon. It’s as if she trails magic after her. I want to know how she does it. It’s something to do with the way she knows exactly what she wants to do, all the time. She’s always in the present moment, not thinking about anything else. I wish I could be more like her.
    She draws patterns and shapes in the sand, with the flat edge of a pebble. She draws a girl with hair like her own, but a fish’s

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