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“Are you going down to the ocean?”
I glanced up as I ate my breakfast of semi-burnt toast with marmalade, a glass of milk, and a bowl of runny oatmeal. My mom stared at me, waiting for an answer.
“Ruby, Are… you… go… ing… down… -“
“Knock it off Mom!” My red hair swiftly whipped around as I said that. “I’m going okay? Don’t treat me like a little kid.” I puffed my cheeks until they were bright red, a chipmunk holding nuts in her mouth. Honestly, Mom worried too much.
“Okay! Sheesh! You don’t have to yell Ms. Grouchypuss,” she exclaimed. “I was just wondering if you need me to tag along.” When she called me “Grouchypuss”, it struck a nerve. I wasn’t in kindergarten and I was going to start middle school soon.
I half - heartedly gulped down the bowl of oatmeal (which had gone cold and felt like pig slop), drained my glass of milk, and stuffed the rest of the toast in my mouth.
“Nah! I can handle it. I need some alone time and R&R… mostly from you.” I formed a puerile smile, sticking out my tongue, and leaving my bowl on the table. I ran out into the open; warm breezes brushed my hair and whisked its way into the house. Plates, pots, and pans hanging from the ceiling, clattered together, shaking the entire house.
“See ya later alligator!” Mom yelled out from the house as I skipped my way down the old wooden staircase that led to our house. I could see the wavy grass swaying back and forth, the clothes that were hung up to dry waved goodbye.
I rolled my eyes and yelled back, “In a while crocodile!” Ugh! We had these annoying exchanges of words ever since pre-school – guess it was a family thing. If I didn’t do this, she’d punish me by cutting my TV time or make me take a short time out. Honestly, does she think I’m still a kid?! While I was walking down the stairs, I thought my mom grinned.
Running down the stairs had always been risky. My family and I lived on a house that sat on top of a hill, overlooking the large, living sea; and the environment overflowed in natural majesty. The winds were strong, especially during the evenings, so I had to be careful when I’m running or it wouldn’t end well for me.
As I made my way to the beach, the thoughts of my past life popped in. We had moved here just weeks ago to this fairly small town called Clam’s Beach. My Mom said that it was a prosperous fishing town known for its, you guessed it, clams. Dad saw it as an opportunity for cash; the school and farmer’s market were excellent as well, all this was new. I was fine by it, even though I missed my friends back at home. I absolutely loved the ocean ever since I was little and dreamed someday I would have a house by the sea.
(The water flows and flows)
Mom and I were pretty close, since we both loved the ocean and we adored things like dolphins, seashells, books, and poetry. Plus, we enjoyed teasing Dad sometimes, mostly with pranks or jokes (he, however, wasn’t always amused). Mom was a spitting image of me; a woman with brownish-reddish hair, high, gentle cheekbones, some brown freckles spotting her turquoise eyes that matched a shade of the sky. The only differences were that my hair was more scarlet and my eyes were bright sapphires.
When I reached the ocean, it awoke with its usual roar against the rocks. The water would slowly run up the silky beach sand, trying to reach my feet, and then receded. The morning sun was just rising, lighting up early wisps of clouds into a faded tangerine. The sky was a light baby blue, a refreshing breeze glided past me; the moon still visible in the sky, slowly faded into a dull crescent shape.
Each morning I walked on the beach, the salty air tingled my lungs; a cool gust of wind blasting past me. A small wave crashed down on the sand, scattering shattered seashells and loose seaweed across the bank. The silky sand, squishy between my toes, felt invigorating as the seagulls were making their rounds in the air, crying “Auh! Auh! Auh!” Hopefully, they won’t drop their business on me.
My feet melted into the calm rush of ocean water; my mind drifted off. I found myself under the sea, breathing, floating in a dark blue abyss. Vivid panoplies of tall colorful tubes bundled harmoniously were laid out in front of me – it reminded me of home. Some were twisted, flat, wide, narrow, or in tubes that blew out bubbles. There were countless numbers of fish roaming the water, all of different kinds, swimming in schools; some with long or short fins and others that glowed in the dark. They were making their ways in and out of reefs, carefully slipping by to avoid bumping into each other. A variety of sea plants waved at me as a school of fish brushed past me – Whoosh!
There were not only fishes down there. Swimming up to me were people… who had long green fins and could somehow breathe underwater. A group of women swam up with and greeted me by shaking hands and hugging. Their fine beige scales felt as smooth as water itself and their emerald eyes were wondrous spectacles that pranced carelessly. The men stood upright and protective, plated in golden armor and swords, guarding their large shimmering palace below. The people were amiable enough because they left me a necklace souvenir, composing of bottle caps, fish bones, the top part of a soda can, and a thin piece of seaweed wrapped around – Yuck! Then, the ocean burst into a blast of bright lights, killing the darkness that once engulfed the abyss. The floor trembled; the fishes swam in a frantic chase. I heard the faint sound of a serene symphony in the distance. A melodious sound traveled across the sea in deafening echoes.
(The water flows and flows)
The people all knelt down (or bowed down, I don’t know how with fins) as a sparkling aqua woman gently floated down to her people, from a golden staircase protruding from the undersea sand. She was literally bright and her legs were unlike the people with the fins; a blue light shone from her, almost blinding my eyes. She wore a refined aquamarine dress that had dolphins and fishes swimming in them, jumping and melting out into the water. Her flowing scarlet hair illuminated the darkness and flowed in different directions, her eyes were a bright indigo with perfectly shaped lashes, topping off an unmatched façade. Her eyes pierced right through mine because I knew they were identical as mine.
(I am water. I am the sea. The water flows and flows. It moves me, breathes in me, lives in me)
Her voice whispered ostensibly in my head. It was as if she was psychic, peering into people’s thoughts and minds. Her saccharine cherry lips moved, but I heard nothing. The fishes and people gazed at me with their curious jocund eyes.
(The water flows and flows young one. And it flows for you. You have always loved the ocean, and in time, you will save it)
The scene changed. I was back on the beach; blandly standing on the constant rush of water, motionless. I shook my head and gave it a good whack. The sun was a little higher now and I decided to head back home. The sweltering heat touched down on my forehead and the little kids were playing next door. How long had I been down there?
Whatever. I went back to the house to help Mom with the laundry and prepare for middle school next week. I thought about the lady’s words to me.
(The water flows and flows)
What did she mean? And how did I end up in the ocean in the first place? Oh well. I shouldn’t worry about those things now. Mom was behind the house, unloading and hanging a huge bucket of laundry on the clothesline. My long necklace dangled helplessly from my neck, the winds blowing at high speed.
“Back so soon Ruby?” asked my Mom, “You usually play down there til sunset.”
“Oh... things happened. I’ll get lunch ready for Pops. By the way, I got this cool necklace, see! see!”
I showed her the less than stellar souvenir from the sea, which my friends would laugh at if they were here. She gazed at them for a long time, a nostalgia that I never saw from Mom.
“Mom... Earth to Mom! Yoohoo. Anybody there?”
After brief seconds, she snapped out of her daze. “Wha… Oh! Sorry dear. I just spaced out for a second there. Go in and set the table will you.”
That was weird. As I went inside, I heard Mom whisper, “The water flows and flows”. At least, I think that’s what she said. I guess it didn’t matter.
After a while, I thought about the ocean. I could smell it again. That saltiness... the wave’s roar.
The ocean breeze.