Jade was escorted to her cabana by a nice valet named Joseph who moved to the resort from the big island of Tahiti, “to get away from it all”, he said. He politely opened the sliding glass doors and ushered her into luxury. The king sized bed was centered between the palm leaf ceiling fan and smooth bamboo floors. Marble and granite gleamed along with the brass fixtures in the Jacuzzi tub bathroom, and both windows looked out onto open water. In the middle of the floor stood a 3 foot square, glass box. There was no floor underneath it, just water straight below. The valet flipped a switch on the wall and watery blue light glowed through the box, filling the room.
“Underwater lighting attracts the fish at night.” he said.
Jade could see a man-made reef directly under her cabana, teeming with tropical fish of all colors and shapes. She could watch this for hours.
One last rundown of the amenities and Joseph took his tip and left Jade alone for the first time since she arrived. She felt the warm breeze dance on her skin from the open window and could hear the saltwater lapping under her feet. She wanted to be enveloped by it, but the bed called her name. Stripping down to her birthday suit she climbed into the soft, white covers. Burying her face in the warm down pillow, she laughed inside at her good fortune. This is a dream, she thought, I hope I never wake up from it.
Insomnia does not take a vacation. Nor does it stay behind for one. Jade dozed for few hours, drifting in between sleep and awake. In that place where your dreams are real and you can still feel the world around you. Small sounds catch your attention and won’t let you go. Sleep was not to come this night. Well, she thought, if I’m not sleeping, at least I’m not sleeping in paradise.
Jade got out of bed and flipped the switch on the underwater light. Pale blue light glowed through the glass box and the fish came in swarms. She grabbed a soft terry cloth robe and sat on floor. Her legs crossed like child sitting in a reading circle in Kindergarten, waiting for the story to unfold. Rainbows of fish in all colors and all manner of sea creature swam in and out of her view. They shimmered and danced in the glowing light. They fed off the small reef and played games with each other. Shining lights reflected from their glittering bodies. Blues and yellows, large and small, round and thin. They danced in circles and enthralled her. She had never seen such a beautiful display of color and grace. So fluid, so peaceful. The light reflected off their sleek bodies and moved with the water. Silver and gold.
Gold. A golden colored fish just at the edge of the light, caught her eye. It didn’t come closer to the reef and play with the other fish. It stayed just at the border of the glowing shafts of light, as if it was scared to come in. It stayed. It didn’t swim like the other fish. Indistinct in the watery beams. Was it moving at all?
Jade focused on the golden fish and realized that fish don’t stay still this long. What was it, if it wasn’t a fish? She stared through the glass and tried to focus on this new find. It was nearly impossible to make out at the edge of the darkness. It stayed perfectly still, shining like gold. What is that? she thought. Immediately she decided that she had to know.
Dropping the robe, she opened the sliding glass door, the warm night air breathed over her bare skin. She wouldn't bother to put anything on. It must be around 3am, no one was up. She looked down the walkway connecting the bungalows to the shore. Small lights spaced along the path glowed a soft yellow. She could see the main hotel and make out the roofline of the beachfront suites. The moon was nearly full and the clear water inviting. She hadn’t even dipped her foot in since she’d arrived and thought, what a perfect time to start my real vacation.
A short set of curving stairs directly in front of her door led into the water. She stepped down softly and glanced back toward the hotel, just to make sure no one was watching. The water touched her toes and she sank into the sweet warmth of tropical paradise. Enveloped by the welcoming water, she slowly sunk under. No sound, no world. Just serenity and peace.
Bit by bit she broke the surface of the water. A few smooth strokes and she floated, looking up at the near full moon. No one could see her here. She heard no sounds of life or the world. No stress of phones and faxes, voicemail and meetings. She was alone and she loved it. She let the tender water wash away the weight of every day and felt reality slip past. Jade held up her hand and watched the water run through her fingers, tinkling back to where it belonged. She could almost believe that she belonged here too. The world would wait for her. And if it didn’t, would she really be missing anything?