By Raeesah Hayatudin
Out of the quiet rise sudden, high-pitched clicking sounds. Will opens her eyes and peers over the side of the boat to see a young dolphin, gazing up at her, trilling cautiously.
Will’s face breaks into a wide smile. She reaches her hand down and out towards the dolphin; it rises up to butt at her fingers with its beak a moment later. The brief touch is cold and wet on her skin, but all the sweeter for the dampness it leaves behind; some evidence solidifying the memory of the contact in her mind.
The dolphin’s gray skin is slick and shiny with water. It regards her solemnly for a while longer before dipping down below the waves, presumably to join its fellows.
Will folds her arms onto the railing that lines the boat, planting her chin on top of them. It’s not often that she gets to take a breather from teaching at the Academy, or from the murder cases Jack consults her on, but when she does get the chance, it’s bliss; relief settling deep in her bones, the jabber and incessant noise of daily worries receding from her mind to leave behind a soothing blankness.
The sea stretches out before her in a fathomless, infinite expanse of deep blue-gray currents. Will should be afraid, she supposes. Many men have lost themselves to a treacherous sea. They’ve drowned; consumed by the waters.
But she isn’t afraid. This is one place where she feels right at home. There’s no one out here for miles but her, the dolphins and the solitary fishermen – not that she can see the latter, but she knows they’ve around. They just avoid her, and so does she. It’s an easy enough task since her father used to fish for a living, and would take her along on his excursions to sea. He used to boast that she could navigate the seas better than any son of his mates ever could.
Out by the horizon, the morning sun casts a brilliant golden sheen on the water. Will stares ahead, losing herself to the rocking motions of the boat; the waves rolling along smoothly and slapping wetly against the side of the boat. It’s the very picture of tranquillity, the air calm and subdued.
There’s a splash, an abrupt sound in the distance; it’s a dolphin rearing up and out of the water, throwing itself into a magnificent backflip. Will resists the urge to clap, grinning as hard as she is.
It’s a whole other universe, an entirely different dimension under the waves; so many things waiting to be discovered. It’s impossible not to be awed by it all.
All of the sudden, she’s hit with a burst of inspiration. Scrambling up, she checks the time – two hours until nine o’ clock, good – and shucks off her shirt and pants, makes sure her swimsuit is zipped up tight, and pulls her goggles down over her eyes. Then, she climbs over the boat to sit on the ladder at the side, tying the rope at the belt of her swimsuit to one of the rungs at the ladder.
Taking a deep breath, she slides down smoothly into the water, all in one go. She clutches one hand at the ladder to keep herself from being overwhelmed by the pull of the waves, and fists the other over her nose, before she opens her eyes.
She’s struck by what she sees; utter emptiness, reaching around and downwards for what looks like forever, only disturbed by flickers of small silvery fish, and what could only be a school of dolphins in the far distance. She stares and stares, counting the seconds, until her lungs ache for breath, her heartbeat pulsing at her temples. She’s utterly consumed by the deathly stillness of the water in her ears; in her mind, she imagines. Then, she breaks the surface of the water with a gasp.
Seventy-four seconds. She closes her eyes and leans her head back against the firm metal of the ladder. Wind whistles in the air; a breeze caresses her cheeks.
*Disclaimer: Will (here, Wilhelmina) Graham is a character created by Thomas Harris as part of the Hannibal series. This specific portrayal of the character is inspired by that in Hannibal NBC. I do not claim ownership over the recognizable characters in this story, Will and Jack. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of the Hannibal series, and I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.