Posts Tagged ‘ocean’

Sweeter Than Sunlight

Posted: October 1, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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heart by the sea

Erica had taken an entire second week off from work on the assumption that Aaron would say yes to her proposal. She had imagined they would spend it having sex, having room service, taking selfies while drinking champagne, cliff diving and snorkeling until it was time to go back to bed and disturb the neighbors again. Instead, they spent another day with Aaron’s family, then a third day on an underwater tour of his world. They did get to disturb Aaron’s underwater neighbors instead. It was awkward at first, but being able to do underwater acrobatics to their hearts’ content had its advantages.

The next day Erica and Aaron passed back through the vortex. Erica felt like she’d suddenly dropped lead weights onto her chest as she passed through. She kicked hard for the surface, then gasped for air. It did taste sweet, and it felt light as feathers on her face. Erica blinked. The stinging sunlight felt good on her eyes, too.

Aaron popped up alongside her. A small pouch about the size of his thumb hung around his neck. He wouldn’t say what it was, but he’d picked it up yesterday. Aaron looked around. “Which way is the beach?”

“It’s behind you. Quarter-mile off, right where we left it.” Aaron worked on treading water as he tried to see it. “So you’ll need to quit your job. I’ll need to get a sabbatical from mine.”

“I can talk to the director at the university where I got my degree. He owes me some great big favors.” He smiled. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“It’s the adventure of a lifetime. Of course I’m sure.” They were going to split time between her world and his. First they would spend a year under the ocean. Then they would live on land again while spending weekends with Aaron’s relatives. They were brainstorming ideas to work their way around coastlines of the world and see what there was to see.

“All right, then. I need to tell you something.”

“Don’t tell me you’re Bigfoot.”

He reached into the pouch—no mean feat while he treaded water with just his legs—and took out a ring, a pearl surrounded by little diamonds. “I will happily marry you. You make me the luckiest, happiest man on Earth or sea. Will you marry me?”

“Come here, you goof.” She kissed him. Aaron tasted like salt and stars. She hugged him. “Yes!”

I liked this one! The end felt a little rushed and I want to get into Erica and Aaron some more, but overall I liked the characters and the otherworldliness of the story.

Photo credit: “Lovers in a Heart” by Michael Coghlan at Flickr
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The Better Swimmer

Posted: September 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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shark teeth

Erica watched the tiger shark’s shadow on the far side of the pillars. It was sticking around, back and forth. This guy was certain he had a nice meal waiting for him. Erica tried to remember the shark attacks on smaller fish that she’d seen on her dives. Which ones had lived?

She said, “We know he’s coming. So we go after him. It might scare him off.”

Aaron gulped. “All right.”

“Not you.”

“What do you mean, not me? I’m the merman, remember?”

“You gulped. Whoever does this can’t blink.”

“There’s no way I’m letting you go in alone.”

“We can’t leave Jory. If it gets past me—and it won’t—you need to protect him.”

Jory shook. The blood cloud was gathering around his waist while they sat here talking about it. “I feel cold,” Jory said.

Erica said, “That’s shock. We’re out of time.”

Aaron held her face close to his. “I love you. I’m doing this.”

She kissed him. “Love you too. Sorry.” Then she shoved him back at Jory and kicked toward the edge of the coral forest as hard as she could.

Aaron swore. Erica didn’t want to tangle with a tiger shark, either. She was the only choice that made sense. She could swim faster than he could with legs, and from what she’d seen already she could swim faster with fins, too.

The shark had been circling left. She came right at it. It darted away to the right, then went up and backed off from the edge of the forest. That brought it right into Erica’s path. Erica swam at it and punched its gills as she went by. The shark shook its head roughly. She heard its jaws chomping water behind her. The ripple from the first chomp washed her fin. Erica snapped her legs—her tail—like a whip and had another half body length by the time the shark chomped again.

Jory and Aaron had cleared the edge of the forest. They were making their way up. Aaron kept one hand on Jory and his eyes on Erica.

The shark started after Erica. She kept kicking. She gained distance. Then it turned. It moved its head from side to side. Erica could hear it breathing. It headed toward Jory and Aaron.

Erica tucked her legs, did a flip turn and charged the shark. She remembered how fast he turned the first time.

The shark approached them in a circle, checking them out first. Jory kept climbing. Aaron stayed with him, but turned to watch the shark. It breathed faster. Jory’s blood must have been filling him with hunger. Erica had seen curious sharks before. This one had the impetuous need of one heading for an easy snack.

It darted for Jory. Aaron started towards it but Erica met it halfway. She tucked her head and rammed it in the midsection with her shoulder. If sharks could cough, that was the sound this one made.

Photo credit: “shark teeth” by Scott at Flickr
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You Must Have Questions

Posted: September 9, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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underwater city

Picking up on our underwater love story again. In the last post, Erica met Aaron’s uncle Yurri and just got finished telling him that she was thinking of moving to the sea.

“Well then… you’re welcome to come visit our family. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like for you learning to live among us, but we can start there.”

Erica didn’t so much let Yurri and Aaron lead the way as she swam alongside them, under them, and over them, looking at everything there was to see and asking questions every chance she had. Yurri was pleasantly patient now that he knew she wasn’t talking away his nephew, and Aaron seemed happy to finally share his world with her.

“What’s that building?”

“The coral tower? It’s a library.”

“Do you have books?”

“Not like you, of course. We take pearls and imprint words upon the layers of calcium. The process happens at a microscopic level. I don’t understand it, actually. A librarian could, well, try to explain it to you.”

“How do you read?”

“We illuminate the pearls in a special lamp.”

Aaron added, “We use storytelling more. It takes up less space. It keeps our memories sharp, too.”

“What are those people doing up there?”

“That’s underwater volleyball,” Aaron said.

“With a blowfish? Doesn’t it mind?”

“It’s not a live blowfish.”

“Oh. Sorry, I’ve watched too much Disney. Does it hurt to hit him?”

“A little, but it makes the game more interesting.”

That was one way to look at it. Erica shook her head. Her raven locks snapped to one side, then the other, as if blown by wind. “How does my hair know to stay out of my eyes?”

“Think of it as a thousands of tiny fins. You’ve got subtle control over them now.”

“I’m going to miss that when I’m back on land.” She tried playing with it. Her hair floated left, then right. Weird.

“What’s everyone doing around that cave?”

“It’s where our local doctor lives.”

“Does he do surgeries, too? Or do you have hospitals?”

Yurri said, “She does surgeries as well.” He held up his right arm, which she saw was crisscrossed with scarring. “She helped put my arm back together after I was surprised by a shark.”

The sea felt a whole lot darker. “Does that happen much?” Yurri and Aaron looked at each other. “Much?” Erica prodded.

“More than we would like,” Yurri said.

“Less than the number of animal attacks you get on land,” Aaron said.

At least she was getting both the glass-half-full and the glass-half-empty readings on it.

Photo credit: “Lost Underwater City” by Henry Söderlund at Flickr
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Meeting Aaron’s Family

Posted: August 30, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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squid warriorErica and Aaron swam down under marine plants whose limbs floated above them. The leaves spread larger than Erica’s arm. Marine flora wasn’t Erica’s specialty, but she knew enough to know that she’d never seen this species before. She doubted anyone had. They swam down into folds of luminescent coral. Little fish swam here and there. Little merpeople did, too, like fishy versions of Tinkerbell. Erica felt like she had crossed over from the sea into fairy tale land.

“Where are we going? Other than down into the underwater city?”

“That’s all. I’m taking you to meet my foster parents.”

“They have those where you come from?”

“People are people. Why not?”

A merfairy buzzed Erica’s head. It looked like a little girl. The creature pointed and smiled at her, then swam away. Erica rolled her eyes. “Oh, I guess you’re right. It’s all so similar to life on the surface.”

The fairies weren’t the first ones. They swam down between twisting walls of coral that hid merpeople and undersea creatures with thoughtful eyes. All of them stopped and looked at her. Some pointed. Some darted away. She waved at a few. Not many waved back.

“People seem shy down here.”

“’Don’t talk to strangers.’ You’re a celebrity, but I think people are going to wait to get to know you.”

The coral changed from yellow to green to blue as they went deeper. It looked like they were passing from the “business district” to where people lived. Erica saw more open spaces, groups of smaller merpeople schooling and playing together, and parents leading them here and there. Luminescent plants sprouts from the coral dotted the way down to form paths. It didn’t look like it would enough – say, compared to a torch light – but Erica found that her eyes adjusted as she went down anyway.

She looked at her hand. “Do I have green scales underneath now, too?”

“No. You haven’t changed enough for that.”

Erica saw something coming toward them that looked like a cuttlefish at first. She couldn’t see the top of it because it was coming head-on, but she could see the bundle of glowing tentacles behind it. It grew larger. Erica started to slow down. Aaron did, too. Aaron sighed. Erica almost laughed when she saw this mer-person’s resemblance to Aaron. The expression on its face, though, told her to be polite.

“I thought we were meeting at the house,” Aaron said.

“I wanted to see her first,” the woman said cooly. She turned toward Erica.

Quickly, Aaron said, “Erica, this is my aunt Yurri. Yurri, it’s my pleasure to introduce Erica.”

Erica held out her hand. Yurri took it, then let go. Erica tried not to stare at the scale patterning on Yurri’s face and body. Where most of the merpeople she’d seen were a mix of human and fish, Yurri was a mix of human and squid.

Photo credit: unknown. Used without permission.

Beyond the Vortex

Posted: August 26, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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vortex

Erica settled upright. She spread out her arms to stabilize herself. She flicked her tail to hold steady.

“How did this happen?” she asked. She couldn’t believe how natural it felt.

“Underneath us is a vortex that we use to travel between our world and yours. Because your mind was open, I was able to nudge the currents to change your form into something natural for our world.”

“Something natural? What else is there?”

“You should see what can happen deep inside the earth. Or high up in the sky?”

“Angels’ wings?”

“Why not?”

Well, she was floating here with a tail, after all. Erica swam in circles around him. Seeing her so happy, Aaron looked like he’d swallowed a bird. Erica said, “I’m trying to imagine my muscle structure. My bones. Hell, my organs!” She felt her throat, trying to imagine what her voice box was doing for her to sound the same.

Erica became distracted enough thinking about it that her tail drifted upward instead of keeping her stable. Her body flattened out. Facing down, she saw the reef. She saw it in a way that she never had before.

Toward land, it looked like she remembered, pale beauty and drifting fronds of sea plants surrounded by flitting fish feeding and hiding from predators. She saw the vortex as a softly foaming hole in the water, flickering and transparent, about wide enough to drive a car through, and constantly changing shape. She and Aaron floated in its wake.

A thought from physics and probability mathematics jumped into her mind: waves of chance. Maybe here, multiple realities coexisted. She’d have to talk to her physics friends about that one.

On the other side of the vortex, the reef dropped away into the ocean, it spread out below her like a coral combination of New York City and Hong Kong. Past the vortex, Inches became feet. Nooks became crevasses. Sea plumes reached out like jungle redwoods with long fragile fingers of branches. City blocks of cup coral and blade coral shared space with pillar coral that glowed the lemon yellow. Light was everywhere, or at least what looked like light—

“What color are my eyes?” she asked Aaron.

“Do you promise not to freak out?”

“I have a tail, and I’m not freaking out. What color are my eyes, numbnuts?”

“Bright gold. Like the sun.”

“Oh my God!”

“They look really cool with your black hair.”

Which floated all around her, a cape of night threads around her face.

I’m trying to slow down instead of rushing through the action and dialogue like I normally do. I hope you like it!

Image credit: “Starbirth Vortex” by Martin at Flickr
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Homo Sapiens Aquadomicilius

Posted: August 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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Erica’s scientific mind observed what her emotional side couldn’t believe was sitting right in front of her. Green cycloid scales, similar in pattern and density to common tuna fish. She brushed her fingers on them, giddy with joy at touching a new species, before it connected in her head that she was brushing the shin of the man she’d been about to propose spending the rest of her life with.

Erica’s eyebrows clenched to a V. She squeezed Aaron’s leg like she was doing deep tissue massage.

“Ow! Hey, that’s my leg!”

There wasn’t a seam. It wasn’t a trick. The scales just stopped and his skin began. She could feel muscles underneath the scales just like she could on a normal fish.

“What is this? What are you?” Erica asked.

“Homo sapiens aquadomicilius.”

“Smart human water dweller. Very funny.”

“I wanted to live on land to see what it was like. I never thought I’d fall in love with somebody, or that you would fall for me.”

“You’ve been lying to me all this time?”

“Not at all. You didn’t ask if I was human.”

“You said you were from Florida.”

“I was born about three miles off the coast, yes.”

“You have a degree in oceanography.”

“It’s honorary. I taught the director everything he knows about dolphin communication. He even named one of the dolphins at the institute ‘Aaron’ after I left. ”

“You have a job. An apartment. A car.”

“I’m off the grid. You know that.”

He worked as a part-time bartender, part-time scuba dive tour guide. Most of the time he was paid in cash.

“Are there more of you?”

He smiled. “A lot more.”

“I don’t believe you,” Erica said, even as she stared at the scales on his leg.

“What did Roald Dahl say? ’Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’”

Erica folded her arms. She thought she had him cornered on this one. “Did your parents really die in a car accident?”

He sighed. “Fine. You’ve got me there. They were actually strangled in a fishing trawler’s net. Are you happy now?”

Erica turned cold. She wanted to know the truth, but she hadn’t wanted to hurt him. Erica could see that she’d hit him below the belt. She shuffled over and sat down next to him. She wrapped her arms around her knees. The original reason why they’d started this conversation seemed like someone else’s wild lark.

The Black Reached Inside Me

Posted: December 4, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
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black oceanThe ferry hit a light rainstorm on the way back to Liverpool. Nothing that it couldn’t handle, but the rising and falling of the ship made me seasick. I walked out on deck, because I couldn’t handle laying on the bench in the common room anymore.

The stars were beautiful. Concentrate on the stars, I forced myself. Even with the floodlights from the ship to my back, Orion was clearly visible, its stars bluer, redder, and more warm and living than they had been back home. Here, in this blackness, you could almost hear the universe breathe. The miraculous part was that as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the dimmer stars appeared. It was like compressing the beauty of twilight into a twinkling moment. I wished they could shut off the floodlights so that I could see what the Milky Way really looked like.

The ferry was racing a fog. You could actually see it coming up behind us, where the black of night met the fog’s gray. The air was so saturated with water that the stars seemed to ripple, as if we were looking at them on the bottom of a wishing well.

The ocean stretched into darkness so thick I couldn’t see the horizon. I could see the wake running away from the ferry at a V-angle, tiny waves that disintegrated into trickles against the larger ones that slapped against the hull. Everywhere I heard the undulated roar of the foam. The black, overcast sky absorbed the ferry’s floodlights. The sea was black, too. The black reached inside me.

I couldn’t walk down the slick, spray-sheened deck without shaking. I either hugged the side of the hull or held a death grip on the railing. I couldn’t escape the certainty that at any second I could slip on the deck, fly off the ship, and be lost under those black waves. Who was I kidding? I could barely swim. They wouldn’t know I was gone except for my classmates knowing I slipped off. They wouldn’t find me in this dark. I’d be dead by morning, for sure.

The ship rose…fell…rose…fell…. Every time the ship fell I could imagine the stomach-fluttering sensation of falling, of stepping out over nothingness and… The breath caught in my throat. My knuckles whitened on the rail. I could feel the nothingness I was falling into tickling my feet and catching in my stomach.

I imagined the oily, sludgy, dragging sensation on my legs from soaked pants, that would tire me before I should be tired. My shoulders burning, then sleeping, and my mind screaming No!!! before I should be tired. And finally, surrender of the body. Drowning in terror, the will would fight until my lungs bloated with water and blood loss to the brain rolled back my eyes. The sea was so huge, so impenetrably dark. Nothing could ever fight it.

Time to go back inside. Those benches were looking pretty cozy right now.

The Green Flash

Posted: November 27, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
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green flashPhil waved to his parents as they drove south on Ingraham street, heading for the airport. He started to get choked up. He was excited to move to San Diego, but now he was all alone, farther from home than he’d ever been, in a place where rock gardens, palm trees and perfect weather replaced green forests with four seasons. He sighed. All right. Time to make himself at home.

He walked down to the beach. The moving truck with the furniture had arrived ahead of the car carrier, so he was stuck with his feet, roller blades, or his bike for the next two days. He didn’t start his job until the day after that, so it worked out.

A trio of teenagers carrying surfboards walked past him, heading home for the day. Another caught up to them riding a bike with one hand and holding a surfboard in the other. Two were tattooed on their arms and chests. The third had body piercings in his nose and lip.

“Not in New Jersey anymore,” Phil said to himself.

Phil picked up a coffee from a little hut of a coffee shop close to three blocks from the beach. The owner was a friendly guy, old enough to be his dad’s younger brother, only with long hair tied in a ponytail. Phil recognized him on the cover of CDs that the store was selling by a stack of magazines next to a little round table in the back. Coffee was still coffee no matter where you came from. Not bad. It looked like they had a menu, too. Phil stuffed one in his back pocket and walked the rest of the way to the beach.

The sun was going down, but even now the walkway by the beach still had a lot of traffic from people out for a walk, bikers – and a skaterboarder who almost ran Phil over! Phil spun around, glad the two of them were still in one piece. The skateboarder waved and kept going. Phil was about yell that the guy was an asshole, then saw that he was his grandfather’s age, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, with white hair to his shoulders and was rocking out to music on his iPod. Phil had never seen anything like it. Bikers, joggers and rollerbladers, old and young, men and women, wove around him as he stood there trying to take it all in.

“I am definitely, definitely not in New Jersey anymore!” Phil said. He climbed over the wall that separated the walkway from the beach. The sand warm, the end of the heat from earlier in the day. He plunked his butt in the sand and leaned back against the wall.

He’d seen the sunrise over the ocean before, but never a sunset. To his right, and left, he saw other people watching it too. He craned his neck and he saw more of them, as far he could see. It was like people had all made a pilgrimage to be here.

As Phil watched the sun go down, he could see why. The sun turned the entire ocean to gold as it touched the water. Most of the Forty Niners never found any, but this was where they should have been looking. Wow.

Phil drank his coffee and watched it go down.

As the sun went below the horizon, he saw a group of people laying wood pallets in a fire pit. One of them carried a guitar. Phil wrinkled his nose at the smell of pot. He finished his coffee and spun the keys to his apartment on his hand. Time to go.

There was a flash of green light over the water. Phil squinted. St. Elmo’s Fire? A girl with dreadlocks holding a stack of leaflets was standing behind the wall. Her face lit up. “Whoa! Did you see that?”

“What was it?”

“The green flash! I’ve lived here my whole life and never seen it before! Right on!” He had no idea what she was talking about. She could tell from the expression on his face. “If it’s a perfect day, when the sun goes down, you might see a green flash of light just as it goes below the horizon. I think it’s a reflection off the water or something.”

“I just moved here. It must be a sign.”

She grinned a mile-wide smile and stuffed a leaflet into his hand. “Get it tatted, man. Tell them Risha sent you.”

Phil smiled. “Maybe I will.” If he was crazy enough.

“Welcome to Cali.”

Come Away with Me

Posted: October 1, 2013 by writingsprint in Poetry
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couple holding handsCome away to the sea with me
To the long, soft, silent shores
The place of long, growing foam
Tender plies and dreaming gulls
Come away with me
To the place of wandering’s gentle touch
A silken wisp and smoky brush
The lush of a woman’s voice whispering soft home
Come away with me
Shells of the sea, wishing wells, pools of dreams and treasures
Magical and free, coolness of the drink that sailors flee
Come away with me
Come away to the sea with me

I love the title of that Nora Jones song :).