I am swimming, skimming the jeweled plane of the ocean with indifference toward what lies beneath. My arms reach and pull and lift against the dense drag of salty resistance. Alternately, my hands drip glistening beads of water, arc into the air, and submerge again stroking, stroking forward. With firm hip and level knee, I kick—an unconscious rhythm propelling me until my fingers brush against something below the surface. It is leathery, like the belly of a shark.
My heart races. I draw my knees into my chest and glance toward shore. It is dry and distant and I am far out in the heaving womb of the sea. There is no where to run.
I plunge my face underwater to meet the future head-first. My eyes prickle when I open them up to a world I can survive in only beyond one breath of my fantasies. The aqua marine world fades into midnight dreamscape. I scan this saturated horizon, spinning slowly. No jaws, no fins, no twelve-foot predators stalk me from the deep. It is oddly peaceful. Then in the din of sandy distance, I glimpse her.
She’s bewitching and strangely familiar. I squint past the conventional schools of trumpet fish and herds of sea horses into unthinkable. She appears an inhabitant of a mythical world where Neptune’s children wear oyster pearls about their wrists and curl up near the roots of seaweed. I am captivated, unable to turn away. I cannot help but follow her deeper into the depths to see her more closely.
She turns to me as a sunken shaft of sunlight illuminates her form.
She is amphibian in nature, kindred to a human. Her eyes look into mine with a gaze both indistinct and intimate. She begins to sing a melody my ear regards—one that taps a note of awakening in my blood, a music without lyrics, a siren’s tune that echoes through the tides and implants itself within my gut. I am rapt. Suddenly, realization stings me like a jelly fish. I know her.
Stale inhalation burns my lungs. I exhale, choke, gulp in lungfuls of gritty water. I need air. Bubbles race me to the surface. I flail about coughing, searching for a life preserver. She cannot be my fate. I want “normal,” I cry out. Save me from a life beneath its surface.
Hers is not the kind of life a mother seeks–it is one that finds.
To be severed from the firm predictability land offers to live with her comes at first with a queasy sense of disorientation, of loss. But flesh is flesh, so I grow scales. I become a mermaid, learn to breathe underwater, and realize that normal is the anomaly. I found the sunken treasure, turned the skeleton key, and discovered that Everybody’s Got Something.
A boat nor a fisherman need not rescue me from my future. I willingly kick my tail and follow my child adorned with special needs into the murky unknown, because she is my rib and I am hers.
After all, I have always loved the water.