Lull of The Tide
Mary Andrews | Alankrita Amaya
Dear notebook that I have stolen from my mother’s pocket, I dare to write about my fear of the water, my personal secret. I dare to strip you of your former contents, the ramblings of a mad woman about her sick child and her many chores. I dare to replace those pages with the ramblings of an even madder woman, well a girl, for I must correct the fact up front that I am a girl and not a woman, but mad, I am. I dare to write for what would be the point of mother teaching me to write and giving me this pen if I were not meant to write. I dare to keep my notes hidden though, especially from my mother because she has kept me hidden all this time in this awful tower, with a single hole that peers out at that sinful body of water. She, like the ocean has tormented me all this time, denying me the fullness of a golden sun and the gentleness of the wind’s caress on the skin.
What could be the grand purpose behind such isolation? I have convinced myself that I am sick, perhaps so sick that if I dare to step out of this tower I will surely die.
I must stay here like mother says, for my own good, confined to the bland walls that owe their grimy color to that of dampness and the growing moss and mold. I must stay in the cold room my sad life affords, and humble myself to the warm flicker of light that glows from the single lamp nearing its end. Oh how I love to watch the lamp adapt to the imbalance of light cast from the dying sun. When the night comes so will my sanity.
For years, I have been terrified, awoken, and transfixed into slumber by the sweet sound spewing from the lips of a treacherous wet entity outside these walls. It has been the substance of my most dangerous dreams, the kind that leaves me shaken, sweating profusely and convulsing. But why does this body of water that I have never touched amaze and frighten me so? How can I be so threatened by a thing I have never experienced? Perhaps it is alien of me to fear what I do not understand. Perhaps I am just a coward, a fool even to fear it, this mysterious ocean. Perhaps this is the sickness and it is chronic fear so deadly that I must be denied living a life that is normal. And I do know of life that is normal. I have seen it in dreams and I have heard it once outside my window. A sharp squeal like a bird but there was laughter following, young laughter, hurried laughter, laughter that was being chased. I suppose this was only a fraction of normal life for I think it abnormal to never laugh as is my truth. And in my dreams I saw smiles once, my mother’s smile and a man I know but then I don’t know. But it isn’t the lack that troubles me, oh not as much as the sea.
One day I must dare to venture there, to dip my talons in the erotic liquid. One day I will dare to swoop down from my tower, for I feel these arms were meant to be wings and this tower truly a nest. But I will swoop down one day to steal a taste of the salty currents and crush the fine grains of broken shells that litter the seams of my island.
Sixteen years I have been shut away, though I remember one year that I ran and then I flew and even swam. I remember that year in a haze. It’s a dream I am sure because I could never fly or swim. I have never flown or swim, I am sure, for I have never been outside this tower. But I remember coolness brushing against scales then looking back at iridescent fins. I remember being propelled through deepness by the flapping of a fluke. I remember also wind lifting me to soaring heights and looking down at claws not feet. I am convinced that being shut away has made my imagination erode memory and now I am not sure what to believe, for I have not seen fins except in dream or memory and wings for that matter. I write with hands and this book propped on drawn knees. I have feet.
How can one manage to live on a planet for sixteen years and never so much as touch the warm coral colored waters that surround it? I find it so uniquely odd. Even with the assurance of my mother that I had never been to the sea as a child, I dare to contest her truth for it cannot be mine. No not really. It is impossible to conceive such a thing. I must have at some point wandered along the shores of the beach or played in the sand. It seems impossible to be so close to something and yet so far removed from it at the same time. Perhaps my confinement to the tower may have contributed to my dilemma nevertheless, like the cold brick encasing me, I feel besieged by the lush, bluish green liquid foaming at the mouth too. I resign in the taste of her salt for she is a she and her taste stings my tongue when I inhale deeply. She dissolves within my throat and I know her intimately. Though she’s a bitter widow burning my lips whenever the wind sends wafts of her fury upwards through my window, I love her, this ocean. I am in love with the sea and I fear her too.
Since my birth not so long ago, I’ve been lulled by the roar of the tide in that mighty ocean as the waves break on the shores of the island , crashing into the rocks that surround the expanse of land and stealing the gems that bask on the sand. Why does the water crash against the rock the way it does, so angrily, so forcefully? Why are the waves at odds with the rocks? Is there no resolve to their issues? Is it the rock that has cursed the widow and made her bitter? If I resign to leave sanity outside my door like my mother then I should think so. Would it be so far fetched to think the ocean is the jilted lover of the land? That she is no more a widow than she is a woman scorned. The land once spurned her and now she claws away at him time and time again until she can claim all of him again. She either wants to render him useless for another or she wants him to come back. Though once she has succeeded he’d only be fragments of what he was. This man is doomed and I pity him.
I am truly mad because the sea and her lover continue to fight; the hard rock so opposite against the soft water, the paradoxes lull and trouble me. Can water be soft? Can this bitter vengeful woman that I love and fear be soft? She throws her arms out to me at night or is it her dress that she lifts? The foamy frills of her dress trash about as she dances in moonlight. If I heed her, say throw myself out of this cursed window that bears her image every night and draws her sounds into my solace, will I fall softly and float in the sweeping sheets below? Things float so easily in her, yet sink just the same. She taunts me and I believe her now to be a wicked thing knowing full well that if I jump it will be to my death. I have seen those red speckles once and those mangled flesh and feathers and innards of things once alive, strewn across the face of those mighty rocks below. Those rocks must be the heart of her lover, for no matter how hard she pounds against them they will not break. I don’t doubt it for a minute that I’d die before this war ends.
I must stop now for I hear mother’s feet trapping up the stairs in the distance, approaching my solitude. Sometimes I imagine her to be more than just the mad woman that bore me for her amusement; I imagine her to be beastly sometimes.Why must she always intrude? I guess she must after all, since I am helpless and sick, and even the air I breathe could kill me. She must love me ever so much, to go to such great lengths to protect me. I wonder what manner of grave sickness it is I have contracted which has caused her to keep me from living. I pray she never contracts it. I must hide my confessions from her. God forbids she finds this