A Memory of Color
by Amber Foster
The bikini is turquoise, one of those triangle affairs. It’s funny the things you think about, when the worst happens. As I watch them pulling the woman from the water, stripping down her wetsuit to reveal that pristine bikini, all I can think about is how I could never get away with wearing something like that.
We all know there is something wrong, but we are in denial. This cannot be happening on such a perfect day. The Andaman sea is clear as glass. We have spent the morning watching turtles chew on coral and running our fingertips along the sandpapery skin of sleeping leopard sharks.
The woman’s skin is gray. Kip, the divemaster, begins CPR, pumping on her chest and counting to thirty. Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty, BREATHE. He does it over and over until he can’t count out loud any more, only gasp the numbers. We don’t know her name—she isn’t from our boat. I wonder if anyone knows she is gone yet, if anyone misses her.
Kip trades off with Lucas, who resumes the CPR. One of the triangles of the bikini is askew, revealing a pale breast. I lean down, move the triangle back into place. I almost expect her to notice, to thank me. But her eyes, though open, see nothing.
When the rescue boat pulls up and takes the woman away, a debate begins about whether or not to do the second dive. I look down over the side of the boat, at that blue water that has lost its innocence. Kip announces that we are going back in.
“It’s what she would have wanted,” he says. This makes me angry. We do not know her, or what she wanted. We do not know her name.
As I dive, I do not see the reef. I see the turquoise bikini. I wonder about the suitcase she packed it in. I wonder what books she was reading that morning, and what her plans were for the evening.
Later, I will find out. I will tell my dive students about her. I will be grateful, because she taught me that one day you can have a future and the next minute it can be gone.
Her name was Jessica. Turquoise was her favorite color.