My body healed up, days marched on, and nights reassuringly appeared as they always had.
After all, I am a champion fish, a strong fish, a winning fish.
Not such a fast fish perhaps, but a steady fish, a fish which goes the distance. A heads-down, fins-spinning sort of a fish, a fish who leaps at the starter’s gun and is capable of endless miles, full of baby or not.
I have trained furiously for the race in which I find myself, but even so, my cheeks are plum coloured and my lungs twin sacs of burning lace . It is a few kilometres long, this race, out over the kelp beds and out towards the dark playground of Bronze Whalers and the other darker, shyer sharks off Long Reef. Through the roiling surf and out and away, through numerous clouds of jellies which pulse mindlessly like small milky geometries, Tall orange buoys appear from time to time to guide me, for me to shoulder around in these abstract unmarked trails in the ocean. I have a need to win, a need to overcome something.
I pull myself through salt water, with my hands my feet, my fins. My chest heaves, my face burns and the cracking thump of my heart echoes into the bones of my head. Below me all is blue-inked shadow, above me sky glimpsed as I steal silver loaves of air from the sky and hold them hard in my chest then before exhaling them, fragmented, in molten blobs to spin in my wake.
I must win, but it’s such a long stretch of ocean, a long long distance. I am wearing my face like a mask. At the start it is all fragments of kelp in a turquoise toss of foam, and later, in the dark of the deep somebody is catching a free ride in my wake, touching my toes as I thunder along. I am unable to shake them off, but they disturb me, lurking there just behind, waiting to chase and pounce. I steady my breathing and try not to lose my rhythmic stroke-stroke-stroke, my lungs smouldering.
I have passed into another reality, one in which I am nothing but air and light and salt and movement.
As I look down in to the deep and watch the silver bubbles trail from my endlessly digging hands, I suddenly think of Marin, of silver light and lost pieces of love. Then suddenly, it seems, every one of her little extinguished heartbeats is with me, surging along on a cloud of light. In fact there are hundreds of them: all of those tiny lights, all the tiny souls who never made it into the bright light of day are now ere in my sea, like tiny fish, like beams of light, buoying me along. The sun catches them: fragments of light, tiny beating hearts, clouds of bubbles, a bouquet of air. I am swimming on a cloud of souls, here they all are, out here in the kingdom of salt and loneliness, in my aquatic domain: all the love and hope, the energy of all and everything. And I am here, amongst it, stroking the blue with long fingers and strong arms.
I put the love I had for Marin out into the world, although she never came to be, and like the light from far away stars in distant constellations, that love continues on.
Love ends up somewhere, love ends up here, in the salty indigo depths. In the luminous foam of the waves, in the dancing currents, in the dip and swell of the open sea. In every sparkle on the ocean dwells the love and hope invested in those brief existences, and every one of them forms a deep bloom of happiness upon my heart.
Marin carried me, like a mandala-shaped raft. A raft made from all those little silver specks of love, those beginnings of hope, those hearts now stilled, those tears.
I won the race, although it didn’t matter,
from "Marin", a short story
By Fiona E.D