May 1, 2002 17:20
Postage Stamp Sized Hole
Friends depart, and memory takes them To her caverns, pure and deep.
-- Thomas Haynes Bayly, Teach Me To Forget
The next night, Cu approaches Despina, who sits, open journal in her lap, very little writing going on, but lots of pen-tip chewing. Coming into her line of sight, he bows with courtly grace, as he had the first night in Ye Olde Watering Hole, and requests that she take a walk with him.
As they stroll off, nobody but María notices that Alberto has trailed along, but she keeps her own counsel.
Soon, the waterfall can be heard in the background. As they approach from the low side, he guides her into the cave. When a rustling sound interrupts their conversation as they are standing directly under the smoke hole, Cu immediately moves off to investigate. Standing abandoned, facing in, Despina spots Alberto scurrying into a tiny hole along one side of the cavern, but, as usual, she is overly indulgent with him, merely winking, grinning broadly as she contemplates how unsuccessful Cu's search is likely to be.
But she soon regrets her role in his antics. Cu returns without spotting the source of the noise, excusing it as an animal. Before long, however, Alberto's voice wafts upward.
"¡Socorro! ¡Socorro! Help!"
Rushing to the hole, Despina admits that she saw Alberto duck in there. The look on Cu's face tells her more than any words could just how serious her secret is. Cu heads over the top to an old mine entrance at full speed, Despina following doggedly. Unearthing an ancient lamp, Cu lights it with a butane lighter, then leads the way into an extension of the cave Despina never imagined existed. Eerie shadows highlight magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. An underground lake has filled the old shaft, and long collapsed walls have given rise to an enormous area of treacherous waters and rock formations.
On the far side is Alberto, clinging to a rock high above the water, but lower than the level of the cave. Unsure if there are rocks below, he is afraid to dive into the lake. From their side of the water, it is impossible to tell if Alberto is injured, or not, but it is obvious from the distance he is from the ceiling where the entry hole is that he has fallen a considerable way.
Stripping, Cu swims out strongly, heading unerringly to a spot directly below his son. He dives, checking the area carefully for obstacles.
¡Está bien, Alberto. Estoy aquí."
Reassured, his son dives. Hugging him tightly in one arm, Cu swims back to the light Despina holds.
"You'd better take him around to the hospital and let Jacques check him out again."
Looking at her, he nods, then sets off. Despina, instead of heading back to the campfire, turns back at the cave, sitting under the moon hole as she contemplates her odd romance and its repercussions.
Last updated 2/25/10 Worked on clarifying the geography of the mine shaft cave. 7/19/08, added quote. 10/19/04
Word Count: 489