Gale Ahrens

A Sea Odyssey

It’s sunset. Exhausted, I go down to the sea. I’m wearing only a sea green diaphanous gown that billows in the wind and my knee length red hair wisps and flies. Soon my gown and hair flutter and fly together in mad ecstasy. My feet sink into the sand and my toes laugh as the wet sand oozes between and among them. The sound of the surf soothes, the green gray waves melting into sea foam beckon, and I enter the water. I’m buoyant, my gown and I become one with the waves as we dip and rise with them and float along, close to the shore, sea foam is my bed and my hair flows out and floats around me like a thousand flaccid legs. My eyes are shut, and time ceases to exist. The salt water stings my nose and my eyes, and I smile. Seashells float over me, under me and all around me. They form a raft for me and lead me past the breaking waves, beyond the sea and out to the great ocean. I’m not afraid as the shells form a hook and pull me down, down, down to the lowest depths. All manner of sea creatures pass before me, jelly fish, starfish, seahorses, dolphins, neon colored fish of all sizes, sponge Bob square pants, sharks and whales and octopuses and creatures I’ve never seen before. They all accompany me as we dive deeper and deeper, picking up a panoply of more astounding creatures for our procession as we continue our descent. I find my gills and swim along as if I were born of the ocean and not of the land. Finally we arrive at the Lost City of Atlantis, where sirens, mermaids and mermen live. They take me in, they take my gown and wind it tight tight and tighter around my legs from just below my waist to the tip of my toes. The lower part of my body is mummified. I can feel my bones transforming to something else, something lighter, something more flexible. When it starts to hurt too much, the Sirens anesthetize me with their songs. Barnacles attach themselves to my lower body. It tickles and sometimes pinches a little. The barnacles detach themselves, leaving translucent scales in their places. The mermaids form a ring around me and sing in ethereal voices while the sirens and mermen play oceanic instruments. I’m given a Secret name, and it pleases me.

I love my life in the seas and oceans where unfettered freedom abounds. Because man hasn’t conquered the seas, not like he has the land. Because he hasn’t made (very much anyway) working slaves out of us magnificent sea creatures as he has made out of land creatures, himself and herself first and then, the horse, the ox, the ass, the camel, the elephant, the dog… I am content and happy as a mermaid with a Secret name and hair now the color of green and the texture of seaweed. I love to sway back and forth in the ocean as if the wind is sending me one way and then the other. The soundscapes are hypnotic and often lull me to dream. Sometimes I think of my land friends and family. Less and less each day I think of them, I may forget them if I don’t do something soon. So I go back to the land, but can’t find my legs. I call to sea birds, and they fly me to my old land home. It’s hard to breathe on land now, but suddenly I remember where to find my lungs. With my own people at last, they refuse to believe it’s me. Imagine! They tell me even my voice is all wrong. Then my mom says, “What did you do to your hair?” And my sister chimes in, “What’s that you’re wearing?” while brushing back my hair to get a better look at my clam shell brassiere. She pulls on it, nearly breaking it “Stop!” I say forcefully. “I need that. The mermaids made me this to protect me from the little nibbling fishes in the sea.” A little fish hiding in there jumps out just to prove it and lands in my sister’s lap. “Get it off! Get it off!” she screams while brushing wildly. I pick the fish up and revive it with a special blend of herbal tea. Then I put her (or him) back into my brassiere that’s holding enough salt water to keep the little trespasser alive. She (or he) falls asleep.

After that, one by one my friends accept the new me. They can’t stop caressing my mermaid scales. Betsy tugs at them, thinking I’m in costume. It’s soon decided. My friends can’t wait to go back with me, each wanting an ocean adventure of her or his own. We’re soon on our way. My mom runs after us waving a jacket in the air. “Take this, you’ll catch your death.” I take it to please her and when we’re out of her sight I give it to a trembling rose bush. My friends carry me back to the ocean all in a rush and I teach them to find their gills. Soon, everyone is wearing a new oceanic form. Many of us conspire to go back to the land and round up every enslaved creature there and bring them to the sea. Using the each one teach one formula, it doesn’t take long at all. We are now thousands upon thousands of new mysterious oceanic forms living together in unfettered freedom in the deeps of the ocean. You may not believe this, but no one revolts and demands work. We develop new languages and ways to call each other through the waters.

Native Americans, Aborigines and all non enslaved indigenous peoples around the world are given back the land. They heal the land, the air and the waters from modern man’s follies and now the land flourishes and many new species of trees, flowers and creatures suddenly appear. Rivers, lakes and streams, creeks, the seas and oceans sparkle and dance with joy. The air is intoxicating to breathe, heavy with notes of floral, mineral and animal. The sounds of the insects and animals make a constant dissonant symphony. Countless millions of stars, more stars than ever seen by modern man illuminate the night sky. Sunrises and sunsets are breathtakingly brilliant. Rains and snows are sweet and gentle. Old buildings are reclaimed by plants, insects and animals and become as land’s coral reefs. The land inhabitants live in peace with each other, the animals and the humans share everything. Everyday the peoples create. They make artful clothes, pottery, paintings, sculptures and homes. The idea of work has become as dead as the idea of greed. The land inhabitants now live in harmony with the ocean inhabitants in unfettered freedom for all. And my little fish trespasser left me to find adventures of her (or his) own.