Ocean of Existence: ‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #33 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! #IARTG #ASMSG @pursoot #WritingCommunity
Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again …fun flash fiction from Suzanne Burke. This week’s theme immediately brought to mind drowning. Please don’t ask me why! As my little piece of writing progressed, the interconnectedness of the universe and all life within it struck me anew. And, somehow, this ended up taking me in a direction I had neither intended nor expected. Perhaps the recent strife and divisions the world has witnessed, and the continued agression in places, has had its effect upon me.
Reader Advisory: This one’s a bit deep. [If you’ll pardon the pun!]
Here’s the short story I came up with >>>
Ocean of Existence
I always thought that death by drowning would be peaceful. I don’t know why. Perhaps all those depictions in movies where the victim drifts serenely down into the dark depths, arms suspended in the water above, and wrists and fingers limp, led me into the lie.
My death didn’t happen like that. Not in the slightest.
The tangerine sky, susurration of the surf, and waves lapping and caressing the protruding rocks awed me and lulled me into a false sense of security and wellbeing.
If you ever get the silly notion to go for a midnight swim after you’ve had a few, my advice to you is DON’T DO IT.
Near paralytic, I could barely stand and stumble-staggered through the sand. The cold dampness of it made my toes curl. My head spun and nausea lurched and roiled. I thought, vaguely, that the shock of the icy water would clear my head. Sober me up. I suppose it did, in a way. Eventually. But by then it was too late. By then my number was up.
I wasn’t stupid enough to go to the beach alone, you understand. But my mates thought I was messing about. They didn’t realise I was drowning, you see. Just ditzy Daisy having a lark.
At first it felt great. Bloody freezing, but I’d forgotten my dizziness. And I no longer felt like throwing up or passing out. The trouble came when I tried to wade back to the shore. The beach lay so close that I could feel the rough scratch and sting of pebbles beneath my feet. Another misconception … that you need to get out of your depth to drown.
The sea didn’t want to let go of me. Each time I stumbled forward through the increasingly rough surf, the undertow yanked me back. I lost my footing. The tide took me. Salt water and sand scoured my skin and burned my throat. Half blinded, and coughing and retching, I struggled to lift my head through the surface and drag in air. Over and over, the waves crashed on top of me. Tossed and tumbled me. Pummelled and ripped my scanty dress from my body. My bra went. It all went. Even layers of skin in places I’d rather not mention.
Once more, I broke the surface, sucked in blissful breath, and then I screamed. My drunk friends hollered and whistled and whooped. But I wasn’t playing, I was drowning. And then I lost the lung power to shout.
Get out. Get out. Get out get out get out. The urgent imperative did me no good. The tangy seaweed-taste of the salt water, the impossible weight of the waves, the crushing pressure in my chest, and the abject terror—I remember it all. Even then, it hadn’t dawned on me that I was dying. I was fighting. I was afraid to die, certainly, but had not comprehended the direness of my situation. The nearness of my imminent peril.
All I knew was that I had to get out of the sea and gain firm ground beneath my feet. But the ocean maintained its wave rhythm mercilessly. In the vast unutterable power of Mother Nature, a mere slip of a girl is nothing. An insignificant dew drop slipping into the night-dark sea … unremarked. The lack of malice, the inexorability of the thing, is what struck the terror into my heart. My mind. It was then I understood I was going to die. Was dying already.
As soon as that devastating realisation sank in, I lost my mind. Cast off any sense of humanity. Became a panicked beast … fighting, fighting, fighting. The inevitability of my death left room for nothing else. The spectre of my demise became my whole reality. And the pressure of that awful certainty destroyed me. I gave up. Accepted the futility.
And still, I can’t label the ease of acceptance as peace. Nor the blanket of euphoria as joy. The closest I can come is to tell you that I disappeared. The individual who was me dissolved. The whole universe became one … back to that dewdrop slipping into the sea. And there was such relief in that.
Then came absence. No bright light or spiritual presence heralded my arrival at the other side.
Days later, I woke up. A ventilator breathed for me. An hour more and they would have switched it off, convinced of my brain death. The universe had other ideas. Medics and nurses patted one another on the back and rejoiced.
Never again shall I presume to assume that a mere mortal has any control over life or death. Nor power over this great and wondrous Earth. We can rant and rave and choose sides. Pretend grave division. However, like it or not, even alone we are all one. The same life animates these argumentative hearts and minds. The same drive to thrive and survive. It doesn’t matter what affiliations or beliefs you have, nor your colour—be that black, brown, yellow, pink, white, blue, or red, or even green. And when the final reckoning comes, the ocean of existence will not discriminate. Sooner or later, the sun goes down, and we sink back into the waters of life from whence we came.
© Harmony Kent 2021
I’d love to know what you think of this short piece … so please don’t be shy and leave me a reply. And, here, I owe Soooz an apology, as I ran over the 750 word limit ever so slightly! Sorry! 🙂
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Please put your entry (or a link to it) in a comment HERE or email it to Sooz at her email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, January 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to THIS page would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: The response to the prompts has been just wonderful. As a result, Soooz be sharing all entries received, and her own contribution on her blog AS SHE RECEIVES THEM. Rather than posting all of them only over a few days.
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