Steeping themselves briefly in the briny seawater to condition their bodies for swimming in salt, Dartmouth and Jollimore ducked under the water to keep their hair soaked, inhaling big gulps of fresh coastal air as they popped back above the surface. “Bleurgh, I think I just tasted some salt,” Dartmouth blurted out in repugnance, spitting out a little of the unpleasantly salty sensation in his mouth. “You’ve gotta keep your mouth well shut when you go swimming in the ocean,” chuckled Jollimore. “Sea salt isn’t like the salt you sprinkle over your French fries.” Dartmouth seemed taken aback. “Are you telling me to shut up?” he countered menacingly, glowering at Jollimore with his thin slits of eyes. “No, no, I mean just keep your mouth closed,” Jollimore tittered, shaking his open palms out at Dartmouth, who growled lowly, folding his arms.

Jollimore tried to plant the soles of his feet on the seafloor, gazing down at his legs being rippled by the endless waves constantly washing over. Dartmouth gazed down at the view of his legs undulating under the sea, too. “Let’s see how far out into the ocean we can go and still be able to put our feet down on the ground,” Jollimore challenged Dartmouth good-naturedly. “But we might get swept out to sea…” Jollimore swiftly but softly lay his hand on Dartmouth’s, expressing his encouragement, and they began to take one slow, watery step at a time through the dense sea together, jutting their feet downwards frequently to try to touch the seafloor with their toes. “The water’s getting deeper,” remarked Dartmouth with a sense of apprehension, glancing down at the water coming a little up to his upper abdomen. “Ooh, I can just about feel the ground at this depth,” smiled Jollimore, feeling some hardness at the end of his toes, but Dartmouth’s feet only groped about at complete water. “Argh, I’m just a bit taller than you, Jollimore,” he lamented crossly, his shoulders slouching slightly. “Oh, but we’re gonna go further out to the ocean still,” said Jollimore, glimpsing back to the shore a few hundred metres away. “Still…?” Dartmouth felt his anger with Jollimore for pulling him out into the deep rise up inside him.

Continuing their gradual treading through the sea, jutting their feet downwards regularly to try to touch the ground, Dartmouth noticed the water now reaching up to the base of their necks. “Jollimore, this is getting dangerous,” he cautioned Jollimore as a wave just barely swept past his throat. “Oh, seems I can touch the ground with only one of my big toes now,” giggled Jollimore, and he took another glimpse back at the shore, by now a kilometre away. “Got it! We can go one whole kilometre out to sea and still be able to touch the seafloor!” he proclaimed proudly, clipping the water with both his arms, but Dartmouth could now see the water was brushing the bottom of their chins. “Jollimore, the waves are wild out here, and I’m gonna swallow a mouthful of sea salt!” he snapped at Jollimore, swinging his arms up and down, desperately trying to stay afloat. “You gotta brave the wave, Dartmouth!” Jollimore called back in reply due to their voices being muffled by the boom of the waves, leaping over a medium-sized wave to remain standing upright. “Whoo! That was a fair one!” “I can barely just keep my head above the water!” barked Dartmouth, a slightly larger wave washing up to the rim of his lower lip. “And I can taste the salt again!” A relaxing student casually floated by on a blue inflatable bed, paddling through the water with his hands and riding calmly upon the turbulent waves. “Oh, thank God,” Dartmouth sighed with relief, thinking he’d come to help him. “Could you ride us back to the beach? Jollimore’s taken me out on one of his dares, you see…”

Rowing up closer to him, the student suddenly thrust the unsuspecting Dartmouth down below the deep rough sea. Tumbling head over heels, he involuntarily supped up a wide mouthful of saline wetness, his eyes stinging. The water bubbled up Dartmouth’s attempt to roar in fury into a stream of angry gibberish, wildly thrashing his arms and legs about.

Scurrying upwards to the surface, Dartmouth retched with the burning salty flavour in his mouth and throat, scrubbing his face to try to ease the sharp smarting in his eyes. “Gyarrgh!” he bellowed out, hammering the water with his tight fists in furious splashes. “Bloody kids! They’re always laying my life on the thin line between life and death!” Gasping up another retch, some of the seawater he’d accidentally gulped up gushed out of his mouth, clouding the patch of ocean in front of him a little. “Oh, you swallowed some sea, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore, hearing Dartmouth throwing up into the sea, looking slightly concerned. “I did… I did…” Dartmouth jetted more milky seawater out of his mouth, and Jollimore gently thumped him a few times on his back to help him fetch up the rest. Dartmouth dry-heaved, and a droplet of brine coursed down from the corner of his mouth. “Oh, man…” he groaned to himself, splashing his face with a handful of seawater. “I just wanted to have a fun little contest out in the open ocean,” chuckled Jollimore in jest as he and Dartmouth began to swim back to safer depths nearer the shore. “Well, not just your ‘fun’, but another stupid kid tried to drown me,” rasped Dartmouth, feeling somewhat betrayed. “I thought he was going to help me!”

Dartmouth and Jollimore body-surfed the crashing waves, lunging themselves forwards to get closer to the shore quicker. A horde of students nearby frolicked about in the water, whooping and calling out to each other over the rumbling of the waves. “Ah, here’s our students, we’re back in safe harbour,” commented Jollimore, chuckling again. “Hmmph… Safe harbour…” Dartmouth harrumphed at Jollimore’s witty pun, folding his arms and kicking up the water behind him while he swam. They stopped a short length away from where the shore met the sea, the entire soles of their feet touching down on the sand underwater. “Ironic of us teachers to wander out of the sight of our students, when usually it’s the reverse situation,” remarked Dartmouth humourlessly, glaring around at the students. “Well, we didn’t really wander off, more like we went off the beaten track with each other’s supervision,” grinned Jollimore. “And the un-beaten path is always hiding undiscovered dangers…” Dartmouth slouched his head down, grumbling.

Dartmouth and Jollimore paddled over to some students bobbing up and down on the water in inflatable tubes, little waves purling up against them. “It’s a lot more peaceful over here, don’t you think?” said Jollimore, the whooping and calling out of the other students a faint chorus not too far off. Dartmouth shrugged slightly. “Hmm, seems like it.”

An intense pinching sensation suddenly squeezed at Dartmouth’s heel, and he began to screech, breaking the tranquillity. The students, whipping around, began to point at Dartmouth and laugh themselves silly while he hopped up and down in the water, grunting with the pang. “Oh, what’s hurting you, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore, smiling, and he bent to Dartmouth’s submerged feet. Sitting down for more comfort, his hands grabbed at something hard-shelled. “Stay still…”

With a strong, muscle-packed tug, Jollimore swiftly fished out an orange snow crab, its claws a little cracked from the abrupt pulling. Dartmouth inhaled sharply and kneaded his reddened heel, folding his arms as he turned to see the crab in Jollimore’s hand. “A crab.” “Might make a good sandwich for lunch later, though,” giggled Jollimore. He set the crab on Dartmouth’s shoulder, where it started digging the points of its claws into his bare, sea-kissed skin. “Hey! Don’t you dare pinch me again, you hear?” Dartmouth snapped at the crab with an accusing finger, making the students laugh again, as did Jollimore. “Peaceful… Heh…” Dartmouth scoffed to himself, warily glowering at the crab on his shoulder.

Dartmouth pushed up a wake of seafoam to two of the students, one floating in a blue inflatable tube and another carrying a green bucket filled with seawater, dropping the crab in. “Here. This’ll be for dinner tonight.” The crab dabbed about in the water, its claws jutting out. “Crab dinner, yum.” The student licked his lips as he peered at the crab, imagining its white, flaky meat on a plate. “Oh, good idea keeping it in your bucket,” said Jollimore, also glimpsing at the crab.

Skimming slowly up behind Dartmouth and silently brandishing a razor from his swim trunk pocket, the student in the blue inflatable tube rapidly slashed a long, wide strip of exposed, bleeding flesh into his back, nicking it on the thin blades. “Ah, my back!” clamoured Dartmouth, compressing the laceration with his hands, hot droplets of blood dyeing the seawater immediately surrounding him a light tinge of red. He glimpsed with a glower at the reddish sea. “Rrgh! You’re gonna make me shark bait with all this blood in the water!” The students only laughed out loud, not comprehending the potential dangers. “If a shark munches on you, you’ll become Dartmouth Jones!” one of them wisecracked, which only exacerbated Dartmouth’s indignation. “We don’t get sharks in this part of the ocean,” smiled Jollimore, which reassured Dartmouth somewhat. “But we do have crabs!” Dartmouth retorted, and the students guffawed even louder at his unintentional double entendre. Jollimore couldn’t help but titter a little, too. “Stupid kids… They find anything even remotely dirty funny nowadays…” growled Dartmouth under his breath, keeping the razor slash on his back pressed, blood warming the palm of his hand.

Dartmouth and Jollimore stepped directly onto the beach-sea line, the foamy, squidgy sand squelching as they sat down. The waves of the sea continued to lick up against their bodies, conserving the salty wetness of their bare skin. A student carrying a blue bucket approached the two teachers, scooping up some seawater and sloshing Dartmouth over his head. “The sea keeps me wet, thanks,” Dartmouth moaned to the student ungratefully, a wave washing up against his chest. Jollimore let the sea soak his face and hair again. “Yeah.”

Dartmouth, feeling a little chilly from the fresh sea breeze, started smothering himself in sand to maintain warmth. “You feel cold, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore. “The sun’s bright and hot today.” “Just because the sun’s out doesn’t mean it’s warm,” said Dartmouth. “We’re at the coast, so it’s a little cooler than it is further inland.” He patted his shoulders with two more handfuls of sand, but then a small wave swept upon the shore, dissolving the sand off his body. “Ugh…” he sighed, slapping a tiny pool of seawater in the ground, creating a little splash. “Covering yourself in sand by the sea probably wasn’t a good idea,” chuckled Jollimore.

Picking up a tiny grey stone from the sand at his feet, Jollimore tossed it into the shallow water, where it made a little plop and clanged with some other stones. “Ooh, let’s see how far out into the ocean we can throw rocks,” he bid Dartmouth, who half-heartedly picked up an even tinier pebble and flung it towards the sea. But it only hit the beach line with a small tinkle. “That’s as far as you can go? Come on, Dartmouth, you need to put yourself more into it!” Jollimore encouraged him, grabbing a bigger stone, but Dartmouth only gave an angry sigh. “If I have to throw stones…” he groaned, trying to resist picking another big stone off the sand. Hauling the rock up, he launched it at the water, where it created a slightly larger splash. Jollimore threw a bigger rock at the sea, where it touched down just a few metres away from where Dartmouth’s landed. “Ooh, mine just out-splashed yours a little!” he giggled, playfully nudging Dartmouth in the shoulder. “You’ve got a lot more energy to put in than me,” said Dartmouth, seeming a little downcast.

A tiny stone whizzing back from the sea pinged Dartmouth on the forehead, causing him to inhale in slight pain. “Oh. Someone seems to be throwing the rocks back to the beach,” remarked Jollimore. Rubbing his forehead, Dartmouth spotted a student dabbling beneath the water like a duck diving for pondweed. “I think he’s throwing them.” The student dug up a slightly larger rock, tossing it towards Dartmouth. “Ack, my shoulder!” Jollimore just laughed it off. “They’re only little pebbles, they shouldn’t hurt too much.” Dartmouth growled at Jollimore, kneading his shoulder. Picking another rock off the sandy ground, he tried to aim for the student, but he caught it in mid-air, rebounding it back to Dartmouth and knocking his left cheek. “Ah! He’s too fast with his eyes!” he complained to Jollimore, rubbing the fresh red patch. “Probably played lots of video games at home, that’s why his reflexes are so quick!” Jollimore quipped, laughing again, which only irked Dartmouth further.

The student intensified his rocky onslaught on Dartmouth, a heavy barrage of pebbles and stones continuously raining down on him. “Argh, Jollimore! Shouldn’t we move from this place?!” he angrily clamoured at Jollimore, trying unsuccessfully to fend off the hard, stony blitz, more fresh red patches erupting across his bare body. “Ah, yes! You’re right! We should!” Jollimore suddenly realized. Tugging Dartmouth up from the ground, they both dashed across the beach a good length from the stoning student in the sea. “I could’ve gotten stoned to death over there!” Dartmouth rasped while Jollimore caved in over him, minuscule pebbles still lightly peppering his exposed skin. “At least you wouldn’t get turned to stone and eroded away by the sea!” joked Jollimore, aggravating Dartmouth. “I’m in danger of dying from assault by stones and he’s laughing about it?!” he wondered to himself, his hatred for Jollimore only heating up by the second.

Having fled as far away as they could from the stoning student, Dartmouth and Jollimore sat back down on the sand at a different space on the beach. “Man, those were some big rocks…” Dartmouth sighed, catching his breath. “Heh heh, yeah, they sure were big,” agreed Jollimore, giggling a little. Dartmouth sunk his chin into his bent thighs. “Hmmph, yes.”

Curling his arms around his legs and bringing them up to his chin, Dartmouth grumbled softly while he peeked at the sparkling sapphire sea, blackness partly obscuring his view. Jollimore stretched his legs out, joyfully waving his feet from left to right like windscreen wipers, his hands making prints in the squidgy sand, the waves washing up against him giving a pleasant refreshing sensation. Dartmouth only groaned when the cool seawater splashed against his bare skin. “Stay hydrated, Dartmouth,” smiled Jollimore, giggling. “Well, after that stupid kid pushed me under the sea, I won’t drink seawater ever again,” griped Dartmouth, growling lowly. “Not seawater, just fresh water,” added Jollimore. “Seawater’s too salty for your hydration.” “I know that too well…” Dartmouth buried his face into the gap between his bent legs, staring down at the shadowed sand beneath.

Glancing back up, Dartmouth rested his chin on his bent knees, his arms slowly gliding down his scar-ridden legs. The sea washed up against his thighs, glistening with the glittering seawater. Sighing angrily, Dartmouth stretched his legs back out to touch the ocean, creating small but stiff splashes in the water and grunting to himself as he repeatedly thumped his heels against the sand beneath. “Not very cheery today, are ya, Dartmouth?” asked Jollimore, chuckling a little. Dartmouth sighed again, hauling his legs back out of the sea onto the baked sand, his head slumping down slightly. “Well, I never am.” “I know, Dartmouth,” smiled Jollimore softly, nodding. “I know.”

At that moment, the two teachers picked up on the noise of the students cheering excitedly as they zipped out of the sea back up onto the beach, their stomping feet vigorously kicking up the water into seafoam behind. “Oh, must be time for lunch,” Jollimore remarked, beaming brightly. “The sea’s making me sick,” griped Dartmouth, his head hanging further downwards. Rising up from the sandy ground, the teachers went to join their students up back for their big beach picnic, Dartmouth half-heartedly dragging himself behind the desirous Jollimore.