Georgie's Big Greek Wedding - By Emily Forbes
JOSH swung himself out of the ocean and onto the back of the pontoon. Slipping his dive fins from his feet and his mask from his face, he held them in one hand as he used his free hand to haul himself into a standing position. The air tank on his back was ungainly, making his balance awkward, but he was used to the sensation and after more than two hundred dives he knew better than to try to lean forward while changing position.
He dropped his fins, mask and snorkel into his dive bag and checked his watch, noting the dive time and depth. It had been a fairly standard dive, pleasant but certainly not the best. The visibility had been reasonable but aside from a few eels and one huge Maori wrasse he hadn’t seen anything spectacular.
He was disappointed. He’d hoped the easy access to the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef dive sites off the coast of Cairns in northern Queensland would make up for the fact he’d had to transfer to this country town. He unclipped his buoyancy vest and slung it from his back. Okay, to be fair, Cairns was a large regional centre, not a typical Australian country town, but it definitely wasn’t a big city. He’d spent the past two and a half years in Brisbane, a city of two million people, working his way up to a senior position, or so he’d thought, only to find himself banished to the sticks for six months.
But he’d survived smaller towns before, much smaller, all for the sake of experience, and he just hoped this move would pay dividends too. Besides, it wasn’t like he’d had much of a choice. His six-month stint started tomorrow and he’d have to make the most of it.
He would take the opportunity to have one last holiday before he prepared to knuckle down and work hard to achieve the goals he’d set himself. He would be free to do as he pleased on his days off but once he returned to Brisbane he imagined days off would be few and far between.
Have fun, he told himself as he pulled his thin dive shirt over his head before running his hands through his hair to dry it off, but remember to think of the bigger picture and of what you stand to gain, that was the way to get through the next six months.
* * *
Georgie pushed herself out of the warm water and onto the ledge at the back of the pontoon that was moored permanently at Agincourt Reef. She removed her mask and snorkel as she dangled her legs in the ocean and watched the myriad holidaymakers splashing around, enjoying the beauty of the reef.
Her stomach rumbled as she basked in the afternoon sunshine, reminding her that she’d skipped lunch in favour of a longer snorkel. She pulled the flippers from her feet so she could stand and threw her borrowed diving equipment into the containers at the back of the pontoon. The deck was almost deserted now that most of the day-trippers had consumed their lunches and returned to the water, so she’d go and see what remained of the buffet.
She hung her life jacket on the rack and let her eyes roam over the handful of people gathered on the pontoon. Her gaze lingered on the starboard side where a group of scuba divers had just emerged from the water and were now laboriously removing their equipment. She searched the group for her brother Stephen and his girlfriend, Anna, who were visiting from Melbourne and had come out to the reef to go scuba diving, but she didn’t see any familiar faces. They must still be in the water.
They’d tried to talk her into doing an introductory dive and initially she’d been keen, but she’d chickened out when they’d reached the pontoon and she’d seen the huge expanse of empty ocean. Who knew what was lurking under there? She decided she felt safer splashing about with all the other snorkellers. Being able to lift her head out of the water and see the pontoon and the catamarans that had ferried them to the reef gave her a sense of security out in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.
She continued to watch the group of divers, smiling at their attempts to shed their equipment. They’d looked so graceful under the water when she’d seen them from her snorkelling vantage point but out of it they looked ungainly. She was