Friday, 9 July 2010


By Emma

The tide swells and she feels it inside her, the pull to dive beneath, to let go of who she is. She slips off the rocks and into the sea. Her hair spreads out in the water like pale seaweed, and small fish swim through it, hide in it. She’s weightless now, at last, her body no longer a thing to drag to and from places.

She fans her fingers through the water, experiments with opening and closing them, cupping sections of the ocean in turn, dragging them wide past her face and shoulder, ribs and hips. This underwater seeing takes the sharp edge off things. Everything is a flower, or something beautiful. His face would be a flower, if he was here. She thought he would be here. She will wait. He will be here soon. She twirls, flings her arms out. The solidity of her breaks apart then comes together again, her limbs fractured and fragmented, not quite whole. She thinks that maybe this was a mistake.

She stops swimming and plants her feet on the seabed. Her toes are swallowed by the sand and she kicks them up, slowly, and the grains fall away. She is still mostly full with hope. Her feet rest soft on the sand. It is only sand.

He leans in close to her. She feels his touch as a push in the water around her. Without having a hand on her, he has managed to get her underneath him. Out of politeness, she will not move away. He knows this. He looks down and her face rearranges itself into happiness. He slips his hand around to the back of her, pulls himself closer. Neither of them are breathing. It’s all about the sway and return of the tide. They will be closer at certain points than at others, in time and physically. Parts of him will always be closer, as well. Like his hands. They will freely roam across the map of her. And the left side of his face, that will press against the right of hers often, sometimes intentionally, while other times, it will take him completely by surprise.

She kicks her feet in slow arcs, tenses then loosens her arms. She is in the water, moving, but not going anywhere, not leaving the space they are both occupying. He steadies himself against her. She feels his hand push against the bones of her hip. The sunlight zigzags its way down to where they are, and she closes her eyes against it. She wants only the green light of underwater.

He will not love her. She is silver, but even that’s not enough. He holds his fingers on her skin. He could be glued, he thinks. He could be glued to her and happy. But he still would not love her. There would always be that part missing. As long as her feet are off the floor everything will be okay, though. She will not think about it, or if she does, she will not reach any conclusion. She will let him have his hands on her in this way, and she will smile into it. He will smile back, into the doing. He will think about glue again.

When her eyes open, he is too close for her to focus on. He is all the water around her. She wonders if she can dissolve like that. Maybe if she could just let go of the parts of her she’s tried so long to keep together. It’s not the same as giving up. It’s more hopeful than that. A belief that maybe gravity isn’t inevitable. That not being anchored to anything could be a good way to be. Even adrift, she feels tied to him anyway. There might not even be a need for the seabed, for the ground.

He lies along her, lets his legs press against hers. She can’t feel the weight of him, that desire. But he is a knot inside her stomach nevertheless. Between them is only water, and whatever oxygen it has in it. Neither of them has taken a breath in a long time. It gets easier.

The tide is going out. He can’t stay like this, static, for very long. He thinks about the way they fit together. He thinks about flesh and bone. She understands before he can even speak. Something has been reversed and they are charged to repel. She feels him pushing away even as his hands hold her. She opens her eyes to it. She wants to see.

He slips out of her arms and away. She doesn’t bother to grip on to fingertips. She twists in the water, spins fast, her body becoming a blur, changing into some new thing. She looks down and knows that the seabed will now be scattered with broken glass. And if she puts her feet on it, they will be cut, they will be torn to shreds.

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