We were driving downhill towards the harbour.
The sea was a beautiful blue.
I sat in the back.
We had a friend visiting from New York.
I sat beside him.
The armrest was down between us.
We looked at the view.
I thought, ‘This will remind him
of San Francisco.’
We turned right at the bottom of the hill.
The road wound around the bays,
then straightened as we neared town.
We reached the esplanade
and drove along it,
until we came to the front of the hotel.
Instead of stopping
we did a U-turn right in front of it
and headed back the way we had come.
The wall separating us from the sea
became a low breakwater.
We veered over the road, to the right.
Before we had time to react
we’d crossed over the top of the breakwater
and Dad had driven us into the sea.
Mum yelled his name
and the car hung there,
Our American friend leaned forward,
his fingers digging into the armrest.
Mum was screaming.
I tried the windows.
So did he.
We flicked the switches on and off.
The electrics were dead and nothing happened.
Dad said I would have to do something about it.
He sat perfectly calm and still,
with his arms resting on the steering-wheel.
I lunged through the gap between the front seats
and beat against the windscreen
with the palms of my hands.
Soon we wouldn’t be able to open the doors
because of the pressure of the water.
How deep was it?
Were we already resting on the bottom?
I remembered it was deep enough in this part
of the harbour for large ships to pass.
I remembered the same situation from movies.
The car would sink nose first.
Water would come rushing in below the dashboard.
I should have taken the headrest out and
smashed a window with it.
I should have told Mum and Dad to undo their seatbelts.
Even if I rescued the friend from New York,
they would soon run out of air.
The car sank in slow-motion.
It raised a cloud of silt
and when it reached the bottom,
it hit without a sound,
the back wheels following the front.
There was very little light.
It was murky,
and there was no chance anyone would rescue us.
I heard my father say my name:
‘He’ll have to do something.
Let’s see if he can.
He’ll have to do something about this.