When Tina came around the corner of the dive shop, she looked like shit. Her eyes were puffy and her face was drawn in an expression Jamey didn’t recognize. He and Dave were hoisting tanks into the truck. The charter was not full and Jamey had been asked to join the Molokini run. He had a new underwater Nikonos camera and got some amazing shots of an eagle ray on the dive yesterday. Already he had plans to make posters for the twins’ ocean-themed bedroom. If he didn’t go back to Afghanistan, he’d bring the girls to Maui for a few weeks in the summer, snorkel the calm bays, eat mahi mahi burgers at a beachside restaurant, buy them puka shell necklaces, and make sandcastles...
“Good morning, everyone,” Tina addressed the four customers. “It’s windy out there but no worse than yesterday, and we had a fantastic dive inside Molokini Crater. Underwater, it is nice and calm.” She nodded at Jamey. “Just bumpy on the crossing.” She clapped her hands together. “Let’s go diving."
Tina sounded like a camp counselor Jamey would gladly follow anywhere. But behind the façade, he could tell she was sick, tired, or hung over. Her skin had a strange tinge of grayness and her smile was forced.
“You coming?” he whispered privately.
Tina nodded without looking at him and his feeling of dread intensified. Did his premonition have something to do with Tina? If so, he wanted to be on that boat. He’d claim sea-sickness to stay with her topside. It wasn’t worth diving if something was about to happen to Tina.
On Tina’s last scuba dive before the anxiety overshadowed her passion, she’d led a group of four beginners in KapaluaBay. After motioning for everyone to surface, she’d lied that something stung her and they needed to get out of the water. But it was the vision of Hank’s decomposing body that made her shoot to the surface, that day. His flesh rotting off the bone, his sunken eyes, and his black hair covered in a brown film.
Only later, when she couldn’t forget the gory apparition, did she wonder if her subconscious was trying to tell her that all hope of Hank’s desertion was foolish. He was dead. Gone.
And now she was about as good with a group of divers as a first timer. Worse—beginners didn’t see dead bodies and then have crippling anxiety attacks in the ocean.
Over the last months, both Dave and Sally had attempted beach dives with her, but when she sank below the surface, things always went wrong. Each time, Tina would feel an overwhelming urge to shoot to the top, desperate to get out of the water. And the risk of surfacing too quickly became the problem. If Tina didn’t remember to exhale the whole way up, she was flirting with a fatal air embolism.
“Second rule of diving, remember?” Sally had warned repeatedly.
“As slow as your bubbles,” Dave yelled at her.
“It’s easy for you. You don’t see a decomposing body. And when I do, I don’t remember the rules of diving.” Funny thing was that even on the surface, with her regulator out of her mouth, she still couldn’t get enough air.
Distraction and worry shadowed Tina as she backed the boat trailer into the water at Maalaea. Sally was still out sick and Dave wasn’t looking much better. If Dave was drinking again, she’d be pissed. That kind of self-inflicted illness was worrisome, of course, but it would make her resentful if Dave had to miss work for that. She had hundreds of dollars in front of her and a reputation to maintain. The dive must go on now that the wind had lost some power. Molokini was one of the only dive sites with any worthwhile visibility, so it was that or nothing. She parked the truck and trailer and met Jamey at the dock.
“Dave’s not feeling well,” she told him, “so we might need to pick up the slack."
“You driving the boat?” he asked.
“Don’t you dive anymore?"
She hesitated. “I do, but not today.” Should she feign sickness to avoid questions? He was staring at her in analytical silence. It always annoyed her when he did that. He didn’t have that right anymore. “I’m too tired to dive today."
He continued staring.
“Just a bad dream.” Did he know she was a widow? Or that the body was unrecovered? Tina reminded herself to avoid looking into Jamey’s face when she said stuff like this. He’d always been able to read her moods.