The Ocean

The Ocean

by Lily Wardell

The ocean let out a breath.

Her shallows exhaling in a rhythmic pulse that sighed with resentment at each receding wave.

If I hadn’t once been claimed by her watery depths then I may have been lured in by the tranquil facade.

It had been a hot summer day, the back of my neck blistering under the raking sun. The sea was thrashing like a wild bull beneath my small boat, and I was captivated in its vast expanse. I felt utterly helpless as I clung to the side, the sharp metal digging into my skin.

The waves tossed me up and down, jerking my small frame as if I was nothing but a china doll. With one last desperate roar, the bull succeeded, and I was thrown into the hungry waves – frantically kicking as I was dragged into her embrace. She pulled me down, down, down into her frigid depths, and I was trapped in her web of deep blue hues.

After a minute, I stopped. I relaxed my muscles and gazed up to the surface, watching the rays of sun break through the waves, burning through the hazy water and creating beams of light that reached down into the tempestuous abyss with elongated fingers. 

As if in a daze, I floated through the water. My tattered shirt billowed around me like the reeds below that longed for even a taste of the salted breeze that kissed your skin with tenderness. 

I closed my eyes, welcoming the darkness that enveloped me, as the sea held me in a cradle of brine.

I stayed like this until my lungs begged for respite, for a breath of air, choking on the salt that burned like a steady flame. I kicked my flailing legs, finally remembering how to use my water-logged muscles that had once weighed me down like pitiless stones. Tiny bubbles flitted around me like small fish as I was propelled towards the surface, my heart feeling lighter with every second as I went up, up, up.

At last, I broke free. I stared around in a daze, bobbing up and down in the now gently rolling waves. I greedily inhaled the air, rasping as I let the crisp breeze fill my scorching lungs. 

The sun no longer burned me, and the once roaring wind now tickled my slick skin in welcome. I looked around for the upturned boat, but it seemed that it had not been granted mercy from the ravenous waves.

When I had finally collapsed onto the grainy sand, I stared out to the vast ocean. I was vaguely aware of a dull throb on my temple, and I frowned when I brought my fingers away and found them stained with dark blood. The sun was perched on the horizon, sending out golden rays that made the water shimmer like a jeweled blade, sharpened by the grueling heat and the watchful gaze of the squawking gulls overhead. I shivered as the calm waves nipped my toes apologetically. How quickly the tides could turn, how quickly the raging beast could be reduced to a mere husk of what it was before.

But then again, the most innocent of faces often masked the wildest of hearts.