CIRCLES IN THE SEA
BIG DROP-OFF , Palau The divemaster growls: "strip four pounds off that belt before you drown, girl."
I've suffered all manner of contradictions in my first few dozen plunges: weight on, weight off. Bikini to drysuit. Honduras to Colombia to Puget Sound to Palau. Lucky I remember which end is up...
After lightening my load, I descend. The Big Drop Off wall fading 2,000-odd feet down can inspire vertigo. But I pirouette now, I hover. Featherweight, I spindle along the reef. Renewed in dancer's grace, I am fluid, buoyant within the flux.
Then I see the tiger shark.
Trying to alert the others, I trace crop circles in the sea: unseen, unfathomable.
The shark pulses deep below, hazing into the deep. Second only to the great whites in human attacks, tigers sometimes curdle courage. "If you see one," the jaded divemaster joked, "don't tell me. I'll be scared."
"Look, there," I gesture anyway, then "fin" to my forehead for good measure and hack out sign-language stripes. Luthor, my buddy, finally abandons the sea fans and peers into the void.
But my tiger shark's tangled up in wild blue.
He's gone, daddy, gone.