Every wave that smacks into the side of the boat reminds me how grateful I am to be here. I breathe in the salt-infused air, relish the soothing sound of restless water, the way the breeze stings after making contact with the seaspray. I love it all.
My eyes squint as they scan the thin line that separates the ocean from the sky; two shades of blue existing side-by-side. I would wear sunglasses against the glaring water, but don’t want to risk missing anything. The slightest flicker could be the biggest break we’ve had all week. Six days spent on this boat, and nothing to show for it yet. The captain is talking about another two days max before we run low on fuel and have to head back. I’m trying not to panic.
I’ve been studying marine biology for three years –focusing on Cetology– most of my time spent in labs and classrooms, aquariums and rehabilitation centers. I’ve been observing whales in captivity. Now is my chance to see them in the wild. To witness a free, thriving Orca with my own eyes would be nothing short of spectacular. We’ve stopped to dive a few times, and I’ve already used every vial I brought taking samples. If we do happen upon a cetacean species, I’ll have to decide what’s more important: The salinity of inner-reef waters, or the chlorophyll content of deep-sea algae.
“How long’s it been since you blinked?”
“I lost count after three minutes.”
Hansen laughs, and I can’t help the smirk that crosses my lips. I don’t usually make jokes. I’m surprised he finds me funny.
“You’ll scare ‘em away, starin’ at ‘em so hard.” I feel the blood-rush beneath my bronze skin. Being an only child, I’ve never been accustomed to teasing. He eyes me, leaning his overly tanned forearms on the starboard rail.
“Sorry Michelle, I shouldn’ tease. I’m sure we’ll see one before too long.”
“You said that yesterday – and the day before,” I reply, tucking strands of my untameable hair behind my ears.
Hansen is the captain of S.S. Charlotte, the fisherman who agreed to take a team of marine mammalogists onto the Pacific for a generous fee.
“Just tryin’ to be optimistic,” he grins.
“I see something!”
The words we’ve all been waiting for catch everyone’s attention, the small populous of the boat meeting on the port side.
“Just there, I saw it.” Elizabeth points toward a spot of blue water, more lively than I’ve seen her in days.
“Fire it up, Sven,” Hansen calls, the engine of the boat coming alive. We glide along, eyes peeled, and the seconds pass.
“I don’t see anything,” Hansen starts. Elizabeth doesn’t respond, wide gaze on the endless surface. When minutes come and go without another sighting, a collection of sighs begin.
“Cut it!” Hansen shouts, the engine dying again.
“Can’t we go a little father?” Elizabeth asks.
“We risk wastin’ more fuel. If you want another day, we ‘ave to preserve it.” Now Elizabeth joins the chorus, exhaling audibly.
“There’s still time,” I say encouragingly.
The crowd disperses, and soon it’s just Elizabeth and I against the rail. I glance at her short blonde hair, the way her glasses sit on her delicate nose, the set of her jaw enunciating her disappointment.
Elizabeth is the founder of the non-profit conducting this expedition, though she’s not much older than I. When we met several months ago, I never imagined she’d offer such a prestigious opportunity. I nearly jumped out of my shoes when she asked me to accompany this trip as a consulting scientist.
“We’re on a tight schedule. Nico and I will be going out again next week, but we still need time to finish editing the footage. Assuming we get any more footage.”
“When’s your deadline?”
“The film ceremony is at the end of June.” She pauses before releasing another sigh. “I really want to make this documentary. But more than that, it needs to move people. To get them to understand.”
Elizabeth used to be employed by the most notorious aquatic theme park in the world. Working as a marine veterinarian, she witnessed first-hand the unjust treatment those animals get. After years of studying and compiling evidence, a documentary is now being made to reveal the water-world conglomerate for what it really is.
I look up to this woman.
“Let’s set up the hydrophone again,” I suggest, and she smiles.
When daylight is gone, the sun sinking into the ocean, I snag my coat and zip myself inside its warmth.
“Wish I’d brought more medicine,” Nico says as he comes to stand beside me, looking slightly green. I grin in sympathetic response, wrangling my mass of curls into a barely-contained ponytail.
“Seasick?” I ask, and he nods in time with the swaying boat. “Why are you out here if it makes you nauseated?”
“Sometimes things are bigger than you. Have to put aside your own comfort for the greater good.”
Nico is the main cameraman on this project, a fellow supporter of animal rights, equal participating activist, and Elizabeth’s right-hand-man. The fact that he gets motion-sick and still comes out here is admirable.
“I wish my motivations were half as noble,” I say, and he laughs.
“Your work is far more important than mine, Michelle. Besides, I wouldn’t wish an unbalanced equilibrium on anyone.”
“Oi, there you ah,” Hansen says as he approaches us. I’m still trying to guess where his accent is from: New Zealand, South Africa, maybe. “Suppa’s ready.”
I hate leaving the deck of the boat, afraid I’ll miss a sighting. It’s dark enough now, however, that my eyes are straining anyway, the new moon no extra help.
Heading below deck to the main cabin, I follow Nico with Hansen right behind me. Of the two tables in the small, humid room, one sits Elizabeth and Edgar, Nico’s camera assistant, the other Hansen’s crew.
“So, you think we’ll see one t’morrow?” Hansen asks as he sits beside me.
“Anything we say would just be speculation,” I answer. “There’s no way to know for sure.”
“What abou’ all that equipment you use?”
“The best piece of equipment we have listens for them, but there’s no way to track them,” Elizabeth chimes in. “Not unless they’ve been tagged first.”
As she speaks, the conversation behind us swells past a whisper. Regrettably, I don’t think I’m the only one who hears when someone mumbles, “… seeing things earlier…”
Though I choose to stare at my spoon, I can feel the exchange of glances at our table, how still Hansen’s become.
“Don’t see what the big deal is… they’re just whales.”
After an unbearably uncomfortable moment listening to Hansen’s men disrespect our entire mission, I glance up. Elizabeth speaks.
“I wish I had the equipment to tag a whale,” she says loudly, carrying on our conversation with everyone’s attention. “Tracking their behavior is very important for understanding how they affect the ecosystem; saving them from poachers; gaining a better understanding of them. The purpose of our work is to educate ignorant people.”
Elizabeth’s words slash through the awkward atmosphere with obvious intent. Though she’s staring discontentedly at Hansen, it’s clearly meant for those suddenly meek behind her.
“Not everyone knows how the animals inside those ‘parks’ are treated. The fact that a killer whale’s natural habitat is the ocean, and they’re barely existing inside a water-filled box is a truth not many people consider.”
Without any more preliminaries, Elizabeth looks over her shoulder.
“Maybe if we put you in a ten-foot by ten-foot cage and told you to live your life inside it, you’d understand.”
The moment lingers, quieter than a wake before a funeral, nothing but the low creak of the boat as it sways with the tide. Nico and Edgar glance between Elizabeth and the guy who suddenly has nothing to say. Hansen, a hard, seasoned sailor stares at her until suddenly, an amused smile touches his face.
As Elizabeth rises and sweeps away, unfinished dinner abandoned, Nico and Edgar snicker at the passive-aggressive display she just asserted over Hansen’s obtuse employees.
Being on a boat with a handful of strangers for a week would wear on anyone, and while I don’t like confrontation, I’m satisfied that she stood her ground – stood up for the tireless work we’re putting into an uncommon vision. With so many things to worry about in the world, we choose to help whales. We carry no shame in that.
Hansen stands up. I follow suit.
“Well played, gents,” he says mockingly without a peep in response, heads aimed toward their bowls.
“Let me talk to her,” I say, catching up with Hansen as he exits the cabin.
“I should apologize on behalf’a those blokes.”
“She would appreciate that, I’m sure, but give her some time.” Hansen glances at me. As he debates, his gaze begins appraising more than just my face. I immediately blush.
I’m not a highly social person, awkward receiving attention of nearly every variety. I don’t know how old Hansen is, let alone his first name, but he’s attractive and his scrutiny makes me nervous.
I clear my throat. “I’ll just… go check on her. Give us a little bit.”
Slipping away without sprinting is a task. I’ve never been very good around men, aware of my conventionally attractive attributes — physicalities I’d rather do without. An introverts worst fear is the spotlight.
Breathing easier at the opposite end of the boat, I enter the sleeping quarters, stopping in front of Elizabeth’s suite. It’s silent inside, even after I knock. Conjuring the audacity to enter a room uninvited, I twist the knob and peek through.
Elizabeth is perched on the bed, looking out the porthole into the black ocean. As I stare at her and she stares at the water, the boat continues its endless rhythm, the dim overhead light occasionally flickering.
“Why’d you choose whales?” she quietly asks. Taking the question as an invitation, I step inside, shutting the door at my back.
“Because… the first time I saw one was the first time I ever felt… wonder.”
That catches her attention. Whatever it is that has driven us here is kindred. I look at Elizabeth and I know her, a face that tells a story, a heart that wants change. We both found a purpose –the same purpose– and maybe we’re not saving the world, but at least we’re saving something.
We exchange this knowledge with a look — understand one another better than anyone else ever could. Elizabeth smiles at me.
“I know exactly what you mean.”
Something about her draws me close. Though I’m unsure as I walk forward, my feet don’t stop until I’m planted on the bed beside her. Her body language says she doesn’t mind.
“When I first got the chance to work with Orcas, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”
“I can relate,” I reply. “That’s what this trip is for me.” Elizabeth grins again, and I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy at how pretty she is; the ultra symmetry of her face, how beautiful her lips are when stretched across her white smile. Her rectangular, black-rimmed glasses bring out an innocence in her, the blonde of her hair contrasting in the best way.
“I appreciate you coming, Michelle.”
“I’m sorry it’s not as eventful as we hoped.” She shrugs.
“That’s what most whale studies consist of: waiting.”
Whales only spend ten percent of their time at the surface of the ocean — the rest spent in a world of water humans have only explored two percent of.
“I’m sorry if I seem… hostile,” she continues.
“I’m glad you said something.”
“Yeah, well, can’t expect everyone to have the same vision,” Elizabeth sighs. “We’re so close to finishing this project. My nerves are settling in.”
“It’s gonna be great,” I urge, the honesty in my voice unmistakable. “You’re giving exposure to captive marine animals and the ungoverned quality of their lives, something the world needs to see. No matter what, you’re doing a good thing.”
I don’t realize how passionately I’m speaking until Elizabeth glances at me. But it’s more than a glance. She’s studying me, examining me in a way more forward than the acquaintances we are. When her blue gaze lands on my lips, I can’t tell which is more prominent — my intrigue or insecurity.
I have no doubt she notices when I swallow harder than necessary.
I expect her to look away, to brush off the moment and release the tension in the air. I expect myself to do the same. To blush the way I did when Hansen looked at me, flush the color of a firetruck and dismiss what is likely my active imagination, but none of that happens. We stare at each other for an uncounted stretch of seconds, and when she moves, every nerve in my body comes alive.
Elizabeth’s breath reaches me before she does, warm and sweet, her proximity leaving me utterly immobile. I don’t move, heart skipping like a record, loud and surging, and she kisses me.
I have no idea why I don’t move. I’m not into girls, am I? I’m hardly into boys, to be honest. Of course I find men attractive, but that’s exactly the reason I stay away from them. I have self-confidence in my academic capabilities, not my relationship skills, and I’m content with that. I always figured I’d find someone when the time was right, someone I wouldn’t be afraid to get close to. Waiting for the right person.
I never imagined it could be a woman.
Elizabeth’s soft mouth grazes mine, and my excitement is stifling, the butterflies in my stomach turning to bees. I find myself leaning toward her. Shocked and confused and completely fascinated, I kiss her back.
Without an idea what her intentions are, let alone my own, our mouths hover and tease, tasting one another. I feel her fingers touch behind my ear, slipping into my hair, and I’m embarrassed when a sigh escapes me. She pulls back an inch. A question.
With just enough space between us, I can see her silently apologizing, sensing if she crossed a line. I don’t know what she sees in my eyes, but when I lean forward again, every question she has disappears.
Despite the partial capacitation issues I experience when I’m nervous, I have kissed guys before. Well, one guy. Kissing Elizabeth, however, is different — unlike anything I’ve ever known, more intoxicating than I knew a kiss could be.
I breathe her in, her delicate mouth molding to me, nudging her nose as I test the sensation. When her tongue tentatively massages against mine, I react. Going on instinct, I reach up and hold her neck, thumb brushing the beauty mark on her collarbone. I return her enthusiasm, our kiss deliciously French, and when her opposite hand makes contact with my waist, I hum.
The thickness of my coat between my body and her hand is invading. I want it gone. Before I realize I’ve made the choice, my hands are peeling the zipper apart, and without the time to feel self-conscious about it, Elizabeth’s hooded eyes flood with fire, unbuttoning her own jacket.
I’ve no idea what the hell is happening, but I don’t consider stopping. I’m nervous and anxious and thoroughly nonplussed, and before I know it, my coat is off and her hands are on me again.
I kiss Elizabeth unabashedly, my concern for anything that isn’t her fading with every pass of our wet tongues.
The polyester shirt concealing me glides over my hips and up to my waist with Elizabeth’s assistance. I am floored. Kissing her is one thing — getting naked with her a notion far greater, inciting too many feelings for me to examine individually.
“Should we lie down?” Elizabeth asks, and my nod is more instant than a reflex.
Without the foresight or desire to ask myself if this is really happening, I climb under the sheets of Elizabeth’s bed. My bed is on the opposite side of the room. With the four small suites divided evenly amongst eight people, she and I have been bunking together for the better part of a week. It is in that fact I find solace despite knowing the door isn’t locked. Surely the six men roaming this boat wouldn’t enter a room shared by two women without asking.
I want time to explore whatever this is.
Pulling the tie from my wildly curly hair, the light goes out, then Elizabeth and I take turns undressing each other. The room is darkly obscuring, but it doesn’t hinder us, guiding one another by feel.
The first time she reaches for my chest, I gasp. I realize she’s removed her glasses when our foreheads press together as her hand tentatively touches the point of my small breast. My nipple is alive under the pad of her soft thumb. Suddenly, I am cautious again, wondering if she likes what’s beside her. Elizabeth leans down to kiss me slowly, groping me more deliberately, as if she can sense my hesitation.
A moan slips past my lips as her palm travels along the swell of my breast, down my waist, around the curve of my bottom and back up. Our legs begin intertwining. Hooking my ankle around the back of her knee, the feel of her feminine body starts to undo me. The flat expanse of her stomach aligns with mine, her thigh pressing between my legs, breasts flush with my own. The heat coming from her is unreal.
Forgetting entirely where we are and how we got here, I start grinding against her. She returns it. As Elizabeth humps my hip, I get the unmistakable impression I’m really meeting her for the first time. She reminds me of myself, an unassuming woman, not over-sexualized, well educated. Wholesome. Her hot breath on my neck suggests she thinks much differently than one would imagine.
Enthralled with her weight above me, I start nibbling her ear, teasing her jaw with my tongue, hands pressing on the small of her back to hold her closer. Another woman’s round hips in my grasp is surreal. So different than a man, softer, smoother, curvier, her slight frame giving against my own.
Elizabeth breathes into me as she moves. I return it, rolling beneath her, sharing the occasional kiss as our hips find synchronization. When she moves another inch to the left, my sensitive slit makes contact with hers.
I gasp, reeling by the way that feels. Face in my neck, Elizabeth lets out a small moan, and I am ruined. My resolve and rationale are obliterated, and only the pleasure elicited from her has any merit. I push excitedly up into her, our spread thighs straddling each other, and she humps me in return. The hard nub atop her sex massages mine, rolling circles around my throbbing pearl, damp and warm and completely spectacular.
I cradle her waist with one hand as the other cups her full chest, the weight of her in my palm along with our rhythm driving a moan out of me. Elizabeth kisses me to keep me silent, her abdomen clenching every time she thrusts against me. I let her suck on my tongue, rocking under her, in love with our coupled, intimate heat.
When I’m quiet again, Elizabeth sits up, straddling one of my thighs as she pulls my opposite ankle onto her shoulder. I fight my breath to hold back a moan, fisting the sheets as Elizabeth scissors against me, holding my leg to her chest as she rides me.
Eyes adjusting to the dark, I see her blonde hair messing from the cool humidity of the room mixed with the heat of our frantic motion, imagining my curls are more hectic than usual. Her body is so tight, her pale skin in contrast with my brown complexion erotic and romantic, my pelvis seeking hers. My jaw is slack with need, looking up at her, silently begging her to go faster.
Elizabeth’s brows pinch together and up, my gaze traveling her perky, bouncing body. I prop myself on my elbows, curling up so I can watch her clit fuck me. I let out a brief vowel at the sight of that. She’s neatly shaved like me, pink and plump and pressing divinely on my aroused flesh. I whimper.
“You feel so good,” Elizabeth whispers, lids lightly shut, and I don’t know what comes over me. I move up, forcing Elizabeth to her back, and suddenly I’m on top. Maneuvering myself in line with her, I lower my pulsing wetness to hers, and we both sigh when our flesh adheres.
I move on her with hunger, needing her, giving myself to her. She humps up into me, her clit getting hotter with our furious tempo. I lean to kiss her neck as I fuck her, her dainty fingers in my hair. Listening to her feminine whimpering in my ear drives me somewhere I’ve never been. I want to sob aloud with the cacophony of emotion building in me.
I’m having sex with a girl –my first time having sex with anyone– and I’m loving it. My pussy mouthing hers is as much a mental arousal as a physical one. I admire Elizabeth, have always gravitated toward her. Her asking me on this trip cemented the friendship we’d been building. Now, all the things I noticed about her before are being seen in an entirely new light. I had no idea her lips would kiss so well, that her hands would explore me so unselfishly, that her shapely legs would open wide for me and allow me access to her most coveted flesh.
I fuck that flesh until Elizabeth starts choking on the moans threatening to spill from her pink lips. She’s looking down between us, clenching her teeth, watching me glide my throbbing pussy back and forth along hers. I have enough wetness for the both of us, never more aroused in my life, though she’s just as slippery.
Seeing her face and feeling her wet mound, knowing we’re the only two people on this boat –in the world– sharing this moment, my own orgasm suddenly ignites like a struck match.
“Oh my god!” I hiss, and a moment later that flame explodes.
I moan into Elizabeth’s neck, smelling her blonde hair, feeling her fingertips dig into my back as an orgasm rips through me. She humps me back, faster and faster until she joins me. I can tell by the way she’s suddenly shaking, clinging to me, whimpering uncontainable noises.
We grind against each other, riding out the shared sensation, my nipples teasing against hers. Panting and twitching, I rest my cheek on her shoulder, Elizabeth’s leg hitched over my hip. As I race to catch my breath, I notice once more the rocking of the boat. If felt part of the act the whole time, encouraging us, choreographed in time with our mimicked motion.
When my muscles give out, my naked body lying atop hers, she doesn’t mind in the slightest, her nails trailing along my back.
I pull my hair off my neck, wishing a breeze would pass, the morning sun already beating down. It’s warm today, the waters calm, sky the brightest it’s been all week. Though pleasant, there are too many distractions, looming like a cloud.
Today is the last opportunity to find what we’re looking for, our chances fraying like a rope with every passing minute. Also, I’ve been attempting to control the heat in my face all morning, and it’s much more difficult than it should be.
I glance to my right. She is leaning on the rail near the bow, talking to Nico with a smile on her face. Those glasses are so misleading. Feeling my gaze, Elizabeth looks my way, so many things in her eyes. The grin on her face makes my pulse dance.
“Anything yet?” Hansen says, stepping in line of my occupied vision. If I could blush any harder, I’d burst into flames.
It’s quiet as we stare at the ever-changing water, never the same from one moment to another. When I realize it’s too quiet, I glance up. Hansen is smirking at me, a knowing, teasing look on his face. I’m unable to do anything but stare back. Oh lord, does he know?
Horrified by the thought, my eyes immediately find Elizabeth again, then, they widen. Pushing past Hansen, he follows as I walk toward her. Elizabeth sees me, then turns to where I’m pointing. Twenty feet from the bow of the boat, the unmistakable hiss of a blowhole at work shoots through the air, like an uncapped hose on a compressor.
A whole pod of whales rises to the surface, the black rubber of their dorsal fins peeking above the water. Elizabeth and I turn to each other, smiling.
<a href=”https://www.lushstories.com/stories/first-time/-waiting-.aspx”> Waiting </a>