(excerpt from the short story)
The sand was bone-white and as soft as silk, moth wings. Sedge and grasses springing out of it magically, as if anchored by deliberate hands and the sand poured in gradually until the fine green leaves stand on their own. Improbable leafy bushes stand aside and a rough path is revealed that we follow.
The vast unrolling sound of the waves washing the shore lies beyond that crest; ripples of blue and grey and sand-green. Not much further, another dune, another rise.
Under our feet, the white darkens to cream and tan and then copper-bright, brown and wet, the sand giving way to sticky clay and a marshy pond that blocks the trail. We take off our shoes and take a few steps in, but the murky water wriggles black and hundreds of tadpoles rush away from our intrusion with instinctive, sensory flight. I pick my way through, swishing my foot before stepping, tiptoe, through the wet, sharp strands of grasses and broken bits of shell. They don’t all seem to wiggle away and I’m afraid of stepping on them, unformed little frogs, only beginning their metamorphosis, like me.
Life in the transient puddle, the scale tipping with the rising heat, or the resplendence of a shadowed, crimson dawn and the echo of thunder just before the sky breaks. Is there an emotion in the receding pond when the patter of the first drops hits the last thin veil of water above your head, when you’ve got no lungs or legs yet?
Cycles, circles, life, death, dependence, resurgence, resilience, recovery, fatality, food, futility, inevitability, fluctuation, fruition, thriving, thirsting, seeking, surviving, everywhere, all the time, past, future, over the whole planet. Suddenly the enormity of it all hit me forcibly like the breaking of the tide over a wall built for the illusion of protection, but not seriously sealed or structured.
I washed away, and at once felt deeply and irrevocably connected, and erased, at the same time.
Down the hot white searing sands, sinking in and sliding the last few feet, the planet granular and shifting under us. Right to the water and through the barrier of ragged shells and stones into the wash and the cool water took me into itself and I softened and sighed. Floating pollen churned under the surface and formed clouds as I waded through it, knee deep. Soon the lake tasted my thighs and I looked toward the deeper water where it meets the sky and there was nothing else.
Like a cool taffeta gown, trailing out, tugging at my waist, I let the water clothe me and I sank down into it gratefully. I was dissolving somehow, dispersing into bits, drifting away and merging with the water; distended bits of particulate, pollen.
I went under, sank, and the wet silk of the sand accepted the shell of my body and settled into the folds of my flesh… but me, the essence of me, was gone, swirling away into the water like a cloud.
My thoughts slowed and ebbed, floating slightly, just ahead of me. I ceased to see or hear anything, and there was no more bother with breath. No thrashing or calling for help, no struggle. It was easy. I had been trained to surrender.
They’ll look for me, I know. They’ll find that bone and flesh shell back there and they’ll think they found me, but I can’t stay and explain it to them. I’m still here, dear ones. Get into the water, lay back awhile and float, and listen to the wind, and I’ll hold you and I’ll whisper. It’s alright.
I’ll become food for the fish, and if you leave my old skin here, I’ll nourish the seaweed gardens. You’ll catch the fish or its offspring one day, and eat it, and then I’ll be a part of you, too. The air I breathed is already circling the planet and it will be back soon and it will fill your lungs and your dog’s, too. Sing a good song with my breath, that’s all I ask. Birds and little children will smile. Then, they’ll sing for someone else, and a brief happiness will be set in motion, and that will be a gift from me, too.
On I go…
(from a short work of fiction by R. Leigh Krafft/2017)