Nuestro Mar

April 11, 2008
Dijeron las olas, «Whoosh»!
“Whoosh,” said the waves. They spoke to me as they fell about the sea, in a sort of drunken ballet, all full of spontaneous grace and unexpected beauty. I sat, propped up on my elbows and gazed intently at the extemporaneous performance before me.
It was very early in the late summer, and it was at that time of day when the sky seems huge and the water seems huge and the beach is so very long; and I had travelled to the water’s home one last time, alone. Things were lazy and quite melancholy for no reason. I could feel September creeping in along my veins, and the return to school and the abandonment of lackadaisical afternoons spent on the beaches of the big island.
I sat and watched the waves, and let my eyes wander out past the waves where the sea was now calm, now turbulent. Where one heard the stories of those who went too far, who had entreated upon the private domains of the women of the Mar, places from where the sea would not let them return.
Terns and gulls volleyed over crabs in the bleach-white sand, along the north-western coast of Mallorca, largest of the Islas Baleares, and certainly the hottest.
" days, hot days, sweat is all you got days...". The old words of the old poem, of Walter Dean Meyers, jump to mind, from the pages of a fourth-grade reader. But that was a million-and-odd years ago.

"El sol brille."
The sun shines, I begin to fear melanoma. The sort of subconscious fear that surfaces only when it feels as though the sun over the sea here sits just a bit closer. As though it where just a measure of yards above you, toiling with a hellish, Vulcan fury to make you sweat. I bury my fears in a zinc oxide crypt, and settle back down in the white, white sand.

The sun beams down and wicks away the salt-sea-air water from my chest and stomach, from my hair and from my arms, drying to a fine, brackish film spanning my whole body. The sea was on me, had left its sea in my skin. I shifted, and the film cracked. I felt it in the lines of my face and the folds of my arms. The sun continued to swab away the salt-sear-air water, and I continued to bathe in the midday radiation.

Crabs, like insubstantial parodies of the real thing, Ghost Crabs, shuffle sideward with a lithe, deliberate polish, and gaze upward at my body. Like the Lilliputians gawking at the mass of Gulliver, forsaken on the forest floor.

Noon comes two hours early on the islands. The sun rises and sets at its zenith, and for this crime of nature, the flesh pays. Burned scarlet and wincing with every pace across the molten-lava, white-hot sandy shore, I submerge myself in the mollifying liquid calm of the Mediterranean. Coloured a deep cerulean and mottled with a cobalt as cold as space, the sea soothes and assuages all of my aching surfaces, my little wants and desires and needs too. A provider and a protector, El Mar Mediterráneo wraps me in a blanket of comfort and lets me float, float away into obscurity.
The wind skirts along the broken-glass surface of the water, powering the movement of the waves and setting the shells along the shore to a chorus of low throaty whispers. They seem to lament something that only the sea could comprehend, much less mourn. The wind ruffles my hair, the same hair that trails, blonde, after me as I fling myself bodily into the rushing current. I swim; dart about among schools of small, coastal fish and evil, slimy, nameless things. My lungs begin to protest, demand air and force me from my cocoon to inhale. I glance about the surface of the water, and find myself further from shore than I would normally judge safe. But I’d made it this far. I dive again, and turn in the toward the murky-deep-cerulean-and-cobalt-now-tinged-with-brown water that meant more distance from the shore. I look back over my shoulder to the clear, inviting liquid behind me. I forsake it and swim ahead.

There was more of the same whooshing; but felt, not heard this time. Felt as a tingling across my ankles and up the hairs along my legs. As a pull in my gut, like a great, omnipotent fish hook through my navel. Felt as a drumming in my ears, timpani played on my membranes.
The gentle, pulsing rhythm of the rip-tide.

I felt it before I became aware of its presence. By the time I was conscious of it, it was much too late. It snared my ankles and pulled at my wrists. Hog-tied by the ether that was, not ten minutes ago, playing both mother and father to my wounds, my little wants and desires and needs too. I offered a single riposte, a surge from head to foot in a desperate, fleeting attempt to propel myself away from fate. From destiny and what remains written in the Book of Life.

I took one last breath. The lack of aerobic stimulation had not muddied the senses, however much it may have deadened the brain. The sharp acridity of the of the salt-sea-air water exploded in my quickly-fleeing mind, the sting of it in my throat fired in my nerves, burning all the way to my non-responsive cerebrum; the screams of my lungs where barely heard and never answered.

And I wondered what, at that moment, all pale and vaporous, the crabs were doing, and these were my last thoughts, and I died, and that was okay.

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