Even in the early morning the sun beat down hard on the water. It lay flat and calm across the bay as he rowed out the oars clunking in the green metal rowlocks and the quiet splash as they broke the surface and lifted again. The quiet and the stillness drew in the hills on the other side and they looked close now, close enough to row to. He carried on thinking on the journey back and the walk up to school later that morning. He thought on the desk he would sit in and the look of Miss Carmichael from Dublin as she turned from the white writing on the blackboard to ask him a question.
He stopped at the rowing and pulled in the oars so they were crossed over the top of his knees and the water dripped down onto his legs and felt cold and clean under the sun. The boat drifted on circling slightly in the tide. He looked over the side and could see brown trails of weed on the bottom twenty feet below and there on the water an insect press against the surface so it dimpled and bent and held it up dry.
He rowed on and muttered against his breath for leaving the line behind. He could have it out now and be catching fish. He pulled out past the island and into the sweep of the bay so that it opened up and he could see the mountains of the Mizen and the Sheep’s Head come down into the ocean and that point at the horizon where the milky run of the sky merges with the sea.
There was still no wind but there was movement in the water. There was a swell in the bay coming in from the sea and it lifted the boat slightly and let it down as he rowed. His thoughts now were away from school and all he could think on was the light on the water and the movement of fish underneath.
Out there he felt he could do anything with the time that he had. There was heat in the sun now and he felt his shirt scratch across his back. He pulled in the oars again and looked down into the water. It was deep now and dark. The bottom lay far underneath and he thought on what was down there.
He took off his shirt and his shoes so he sat in the boat in his shorts. The sun was warm against his skin but he knew the water was cold. He took the oars out of their rowlocks and stashed them in the bottom of the boat. Then he stood up and dived awkwardly into the water. The boat shoved away from him as he went in and the cold caught him like a hard fist tight around his head. He came up and shook his head in the air and looked back at the boat. Seeing it raised in the water he wondered if he was going to be able to reach up to be able to grab at the side and pull himself back in.
He turned away from the boat and swam out in the water. It still felt cold around him but as he moved he could feel his legs and arms loosen with the activity. He lay on his back and kicked at his legs and watched as the spray lit the air and wondered at the noise that was so close to him out there in the bay where there was no-one else to hear.
He swam back to the boat and tried to reach up the side to pull himself back in. It was too high and even as he kicked hard in the water he could not get his hand over the side to pull himself in. He moved down to the back and there it sloped slightly towards the water. He got grip there and hung on for a minute floating in the water before he kicked again to pull himself in grazing his leg against a splinter as he tumbled in. The blood was pale and watery on his skin.
He rubbed himself down with his shirt and threw it back into the bottom of the boat. He then picked up the oars and put them back into the rowlocks to row himself back. He looked over the bay as he went watching the water and the light that it made.