Memoir: The Subterranean Kingdom


This memoir was highly commended in the Year 4-6 category of our Keep It Real Memoir competition.


The winning entries can be found in Write On Issue 57: Believe It or Not which is being launched in early December.



The Subterranean Kingdom

by Bill Kelly


The sea lurched and spun like a trampoline. In the distance I could see a cluster of islands. I had been preparing for this moment for weeks.


A voice crackled over the intercom, “Please descend the stairs and receive your wetsuit. Thank you.” The voice babbled on for a bit about safety but then I heard, the best snorkelling spots …. and ... for the brave, an underwater subterranean cave.


I jumped up and sprinted down the stairs. My excitement, and nerves, were growing. Butterflies escaped from my stomach and my heart pounded so hard I could hear it. While I was waiting in line I skipped to keep warm, the cold sea air biting my cheeks.


As I descended from the back of the boat into the ocean, the chill tingled up from my toes to my spine. I took a deep breath before pushing my face mask into the clear, salty water and swam off, straight in the direction of the sea-cave.


The waves ran at a small opening in the rock face and sucked me forward. Carefully, I explored deeper into the tunnel, running my fingers along the wall through the slimy tangle of rolling rimurimu and guided by the glow of luminescent moss.


I felt a sudden pang of fear. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see the bottom through the deep blue water. I kicked hard with my flippers until the tunnel opened up into a larger oval-shaped cave, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light. I heard the waves pounding as they hollowed out rocks, and echoes of dripping water forming crystals as it ran down stalactites.


Then, when I turned around and looked back towards the light, I gasped at the flickering myriad of greens and blues. Shafts of sunlight pierced through the slit in the rock, making the water, thick with fish, dance and sway in a blizzard of colours. As the multi-coloured cloud spun and swirled around me, I felt like I was inside a shimmering rainbow. I floated back through the underwater world, easing my fingers through the dappled light as if I was swimming in glitter, surrounded by more fish than anyone could count.


I will never forget the awe I felt discovering the secret kingdom of plants, fish, and sea creatures protected as a marine reserve. We are all kaitiaki of our future.


(c) Write On and Bill