The first thing I knew in this world was warm. Comfortable temperatures wrapping themselves around me, suspended and at peace. The second was wet, of depths swirling around me, currents flush against my skin, cocooning me in a way that didn’t feel claustrophobic in the slightest. I was carried, there, cradled against the sea in a way that made me feel like the earth was holding me tightly, surrounding me through her watery depths. The third was tightness, a gradually increasing tightness in my chest that forced my eyes open, unbearable as it was. A tightness that begged for a release, asked me to part my lips and breath. My vision was blurry, but I could see light. With a few kicks I was there, breaching the surface and pulling deep lungfuls of salty sweet air in.

The air was much colder than the water, but nowhere close to unpleasant. Biting at my salty lips and tongue, causing me to squint my eyes. I tread in a slow circle, eyeing the passive blue of the ocean around me as she shimmered and waved. I tried to blink the water out of my eyes, wanting to rub them but knowing wet hands wouldn’t help. Towards the end of my circle and sandy beach grew into view. Lush trees swaying at the edges of my vision, waving into the night and monitoring the ocean and I in front of them like stalwart sentries. The spoke naught except for a gentle swishing barely noticeable over the waves of the ocean, as if murmuring to each other about the unknowing creature cradled in the tides below them.

Through the waves I crept, slowly and unsurely, a turtle’s pace fitted for someone who knew as very little as me, towards that sandy respite. The ocean’s gentle waves, pushing me along, until my toes could touch her sandy depths. And there a kicked my way forward yet, towards her glossy green shallows. From the waves I emerged like that seafoam goddess did eons ago, toes buried in sand and aching for balance, arms skewed wide. I managed to keep it, gazing around and noticing the chunks of wood, barely buried, except for a light dusting of sand. I put my hand to one nearby, it was still damp from the ocean mere meters away. I searched across them, finally noting the largest. It seemed to be most of a ship, tall sail torn, but still towering above my head. And with that, memories I had forgotten I had began returning themselves to me.

A glossy boat with sails packed under the seat, a lunch bag packed and tied down next to the first aid kit, the smooth ocean and the wind in her sails I could still taste between my teeth. And beyond that, a brick house with a cat in the window. A woman with honey brown eyes, sun on her skin and brown hair in a bun on her head. Her voice asking me if it’s safe to sail and how I replied without hesitation that it was, of course it was. My memory of that fault was more grating than most, my own flaws being brought back into harsh reality after being blissfully unaware. I brought a sandy hand to my forehead. I knew I had extra supplies at some point, but from the pieces of her that remained scattered like fresh fall leaves, I wasn’t sure how much remained. Much less was usable. It all seemed so scattered, even with my old thoughts trickling back, that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to do next. I kicked a piece of wooden railing. 

The sound of it surprised me, and for the first time I noticed how quiet it was. People describe quiet as deathly, but this one didn’t seem so grim. It was quiet, yes, but peaceful. It seemed totally content in its undisturbedness, in its lack of action. It wasn’t the scenery I was used to. Even on my boat before her demise, the air was always glimmering with laughter and shouting. How often was I alone, just me and the ocean? I couldn’t remember the last time. Sixteen, maybe eighteen? Since then, I had kept myself in company so often I had forgotten the company the sea provided. I regretted that, and wished I could have held this more often.

I sat in the sand and faced her, noting with mild amusement that I supposed it really didn’t matter if I got sand on my clothes, now. My throat was dry, but I figured saltwater wouldn’t cure it. I knew me and the sea and the sand would be keeping each other good company, for a while. I briefly wished for the shimmer of an electric lantern on the sand between my knees, but any desire for that evaporated as soon as I tilted my eyes to the heavens. 

The stars scattered there drove the breath I had gratefully taken earlier from my lungs once more. It was uncountable, unmountable, an immense expanse I’d never seen. I grieved never seeing the sky like this before, never doting on the way the stars looked far from headlights and billboards. It was like looking up into the sandy beach below me, each grain illuminated beyond anything simple electricity could manage. For a moment I was reminded of the plastic glow in the dark stars that did this so little justice, but that amusement was gone when I noticed the moon.

It was bright, fuller than I thought it could be. It looked like a balloon, ready to pop and shower me in glowing dust. It was stunning and silent, calling to the ocean below as she danced to herself in the waves. Part of me couldn’t believe it was real, that the moon looked like this when we paid so much homage to the sun. I felt like I wanted to cover my eyes from the light, but I withheld. I sat, cradled between the sand and the waves, leaning back. I wanted to stay there a few moments longer, with the sea, and the stars, and me. 

March 01, 2021 17:37

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21:32 Mar 14, 2021

Nice narrative! I also loved your first mother's womb paragraph, a different and unexpected story opening! Excellent! However, the story was too tied to the prompt, for my taste. It's true we need to respect the given prompt but our short stories need to have... more freedom (different turns and ways!... for the stories to be not that obvious). Great job!


Mariposa Red
22:54 Mar 15, 2021

Thank you!!


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Nainika Gupta
14:36 Apr 14, 2021

Oh wow, I loved this first submission! Really descriptive and honestly so powerful!


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