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When I was born the world sat on my lungs and ate my breath; my carcass filled with sand.
My hair was a ratty nest hiding inside seashells and sea salt. I was 'a sea angel that shimmered in the light,' my father says. But all I remember was the air; thick and dry.
"Who was my mom?" I think I asked one night.
"The sea," he said.
He was a pirate who made love to the waters. 'A fisherman,' he says, but he was a fish. He would creak his boat down the blue trail behind our house and dive in, deep, till he touched the bottom. He'd come home with his clothes dripping and his mouth full of anemone.
"The sea gave me you," he explains. "A trade for love."
I was not allowed to touch the sea.
"She will eat you," he said. "Put you back in the belly you came from."
"Your mother doesn't like it when you're dry," he explained.
At night I'd crawl out of bed and dip into my mothers shallow waters. Her tide would touch my feet, rip the wet sand between the cracks and toes and pull me in deep; sliding in through the waves.
"Come home," she said to me one night.
And I did.
The water was wet. Full of salt, thick with sand and alive with amphibians. And I breathed it all in. It washed in and out of my lungs, cleaning out the last bits of oxygen and filling my air-sacs with hydrogen. I felt like I was drowning, but I was breathing. I was alive.
I twirled and swirled in blue till I reached the brim of the water world, meeting the sky flying, till I cam crashing down.
The sea, I thought, I love.
"Come closer," her voice was all around me. "Let me see your face."
The water began to wash through me; twisting in my insides and escaping in my exhales through my neck. And I could feel her getting closer. I thought of her belly and the pain I would feel when her tummy walls churn me. I began to move through the water so fast all I saw was a whirl of colors from the spectacle of the sea.
And then everything stopped. I could see.
Blue. Yellow. Green.
She was a mush of cool colors and her hair swayed from the left to the right, as if it were dancing wind. She put her blue prune hands to my face and scaled them down my cheek; her nails scrapping the side of my face.
"your hair," she said, "looks nothing like mine."
Her face turned putrid and she ripped my strands from my scalp.
The water was alive with sounds; screams sounding like the cry of a whale. My scalp bruised and pulsed and ached.
Soon the water became thick in my lungs and I couldn't breathe the sea anymore. I was pushing the water in and out of my mouth as I heaved closer and closer to the bottom.
"Ugly," she yelled at me. "You ugly human fool."
She swam in circles above me as I sank like a ship to the bottom.
I woke with light; my skin drying and baking. My mouth was full of sand.
I can breathe. IcanbreatheIcanbreathe.
I inhaled so deep that I felt the world tip a little into my mouth, before I exhaled and landed it back on it's axis. I pushed my chest up from my belly and sank hard into oxygen. It was sweet.
"I am so glad," I managed.
I love the land.
But I was strange now, I could feel it. A creature from another planet with scales and fins and gills. I wondered if I was still father's sea angel. But I was ugly; a sea creature. He would never forgive me.
I folded my limbs against my torso and rocked myself deep in the sand.
Eat me away, I thought.
I felt warmth on my shoulder. I turned.
Pale. Brown. Blue.
He plated his hand against my cheek and squeezed me till the last bits of sea choked out.
"I am sorry."
"You are shimmering," he told me. "Like my sea angel."
But I hated the sea.