I have come to the sea

Disused lifeboat house at Porthleven, Cornwall.

This was a little piece written for the Shrewsbury Flash Fiction group. We were given the opening line “I have come to the sea; I hate the sea.” Interestingly, everyone there said how hard it had been to write about hating the sea – we all love it – and this sparked some great conversation about why humans might have such a strong affinity with the sea. ____________________________________

I have come to the sea; I hate the sea. With its wide promise and elusive calm, the sea is a sham. I have failed. I have lost my way. I have come to the sea because you brought me to this point, and I stare now over this undulating plane of ink black and wonder how I imagined the bulk of existence was above me. Faced with the sea’s Truth, I find I have my lived life on a mountain. In just a few strides, that which I thought lower ground will drop into a chasm so deep I can’t even contemplate the height at which I currently stand. It leaves me dizzy and foolish.

I have failed, lost my way, and the sea can prove this.

You said I should keep my gaze on the horizon, but you were wrong. The horizon is an impossibility and all that stumbling towards something out of reach is pointless when a person doesn’t even see where their feet have trodden. You said the horizon would drive me, and it did. But to what end?

I have come to the sea to remind myself of this.

I have come to the sea to show you how wrong you were.

I’ll meet you there, you said. So I scan and squint at the distant blue-black line, take measure of the steps towards it and sense the drop, that vast fall down from this fragile pausing place, feel the churning of fathoms unknown, the closing of darkness, and more and more the way seems lost, more and more I see the failing, and I weep.

I weep because I am still driven.

I have come to the sea; I hate the sea, and as its benign edges curl around my toes, tugging me onwards, I glance down and see the ink black is transparent here, tumbling grains of sand over my skin, frothing gently in pools which swirl and sink and creep slowly back to their source.

I lift my eyes, return my gaze to the final destination, and stumble on.

Sandie Zand, May 2015