Illustrated by Cait Maloney
He lived in the sea, and I on land. When he ventured into my world I always knew he was different. He didn’t mention that he was merely a tourist where I dwelled. His cool skin tone matched his demeanor and as I got to know him, I looked upon his quirky nature to be a charming part of his uniqueness. He’d often tell me how similar and yet opposite we were and how, by the law of nature, opposites must attract.
As time went by, we started to take regular walks on his favourite beaches. At first he showed me how beautiful the ocean looked with the sun setting overhead, lending its molten aura to the depths below. I fell in love with collecting the beautiful pebbles and smooth pearly shells as we walked along the shore. Most of all, I loved the beach air. We had so much to say but sometimes talked most by saying very little.
Eventually, he took my hand and led me gently into the glistening waves where we continued walking along the shoreline with the water lapping our legs. I’d always been awed by the ocean from the safe distance of a sun-lounger anchored in the sand so I was apprehensive at first.
The water was warm and enjoyable as we splashed each other. We contemplated our future together simply through spell-struck gazes. He had an innocence to him that captivated me and I guess my feisty nature lit within him, a sort of curiosity too –both of which turned to something deeper with the passage of time.
He taught me to swim and I felt lucky to have acquired a great new skill. He pointed out that the waters were too wondrous not to explore and I quickly fell into the spirit of discovery. We were two souls making a life together. After having waited long enough to meet someone I could build this sacred bond with, I questioned little and let love flow – each day was fresh and new. We swam tirelessly, there was much to uncover. Before long I was delving deeper and farther than I ever had before and he seemed very much at peace with me by his side on the countless adventures he plotted.
One day, I looked around me and suddenly realized that land had become a distant prospect. It was a world I was fast leaving behind without want or warning – my own world. He had beckoned me into his world but once together, he had no intention for us to return to spend time in mine.
My world was too loud and bright for him, he said. He had been happy to visit for a while. He had seen no need to mention that he didn’t really live there. I wept alone with my desolate sense of isolation while he obliviously continued to bask in the comfort of all that was familiar to him. My love had truly made him thrive. His had taken me away from all I held dear.
And so, I had a simple choice: I could either swim back to the shore and save my life, or drown slowly under water where I was never meant to be able to breathe.
At first I was too bewildered by the cruelty nature had bestowed on us – that we could have love or have life but not both. Destined to meet but not be able to stay together. I wept and I wept. Then when the ocean had claimed all my tears, I went to him. He’d lived in my world once, I implored, so perhaps he could again? But he said my world was chaos – and while so was his – he knew and felt at ease in those trident waters. My world simply wouldn’t do for him he said and so, he reasoned, there was no point in him trying to adapt to live there. How about some time in yours and some time in mine I tried. No go. But I’ll die here, I tried to lay out the gravity of the situation. To no avail for it was beyond his limited comprehension and he just beckoned me to join him on another exploration into the deep.
As the sun sank ritually beneath the waves, I was left with a heart that was empty. Not empty of love mind, for it was then I realized that my poor heart had not been carrying love – but rather, burdens that had brought about the bond of obligation. That night I knew I could have it all but first I had to get my life back. And I swam. I swam with meaning so I’d never have to swim so frantically again.
Back on land, the sand still held the residual warmth of the day. A few pebbles glistened here and there, being given new life by the light of the full moon. The tide was steadily going out now and I too, bid a silent goodbye to the man from the sea. The moon seemed to wink at me, as it was briefly engulfed by a passing cloud. I smiled, content in knowing that something special was just around the corner. I had simply needed to see something fake to be able to sift for the real. Maybe my soulmate would be from my world and maybe he’d be from another but one thing would be for sure. We’d spend the rest of our lives soaring together with neither being left to drown.