Puh! There’s that vile flavor again, zinc oxide mixed with oxybenzone. Yet another method in which these dinosaur mutations with faces, noses and legs (or whoever they are) infiltrate my existence. I,
the Bass Strait — see, I’ve even come to identify with the name they gave me — used to be only a channel connecting ocean water and separating land formations, between Australia and Tasmania, I’ve heard them say. But otherwise, I had almost nothing to do with the land, thankfully. I nodded reverentially to the mountainous cove, tipped my foamy wave caps to the rocky sand and that was that. Water, land, they have not much in common anyway. What is there to converse of?
Those zingy oxybenzone chemicals leave an oily sheen on my pristine blue surface into infinity. That’s not even the worst of it with all these poorly educated, leaky flesh miniatures — children they like to be called.
An accumulation of sunsets ago so vast it is beyond my recollection,
I used to think the hideous things were a rare mutation of fish that
that crawled out of my depths and could survive on both earthly and
aqueous terrain.† But then one — well I should admit a few (that I know
of at least) — died via overzealous water consumption whilst flapping
their limbs about in a wholly inefficient manner. It’s happened enough
that I’m honestly uncertain whether or not they do it on purpose. Do
they desire to be one of us water beings (for I do consider the fish,
seaweed, coral, mollusks, etcetera, part of myself, yet at the same time
they are also their own beings) or are they simply deranged out of their
shrivelly pink cerebrums?
Alas, a “death” is but a shift in energetic habituation anyway.
Yet, I had no control over these sentience transmutations. My tides
simply ebbed and flowed as directed by my lunar overlord (or queen
as she prefers to be called)‡. Besides, I am so vast that to be sentient
of each and every minute action occurring beneath my surface would
be impossible. Does unstagnated air keep track of every grain
of sand it scatters? Do wisps of illuminated orange count the number
of forests they turn to black?
Of course, I do not enjoy the sight of desiccated miniatures with their
stumpy little legs and sunken eyes polluting my coral reefs and kelp
forests. But, there is a purpose for their residency within me: I’ve
extracted valuable information from their vertebrate skulls, as I do
with everyone and everything that makes its home within my murky
abyss. That includes thick volumes of text floated astray from capsized ships
and thinner volumes (many with sultry covers depicting a hard-stomached
man called Fabio) stolen by hyperactive air from cruise ships or accidentally
flung in at the hands of turf creature drunkenness, crushed cans of fizzy drink,
candy coverings, ice cream coverings, glass beer vessels, flotation devices,
This one little child, the first to drown within me was called Enrique and he was
quite the adventurous sort, adventurous being a euphemism for stupid.
After he had fully decayed and his memories had finished seeping into
my own (well, a conglomeration of my own and those of many other
deceased turf creatures, really), I found out that he’d made a hobby of
catching fireflies, dipping them into a brown sodium-dense sauce and
eating them while his parents’ attentions were otherwise consumed.
Thus, if he hadn’t expired within my waters, he probably would have
shortly after from an incandescent stomach ulcer.
A woman dribbles her body up and down on my waves from within a bright yellow inner tube. “He’s fit in this swim trunks, yeah?” she says. She is wearing some sort of tan rock-shaped covering on her head. I have seen these things before, yet surprisingly, never swallowed one up. Unless I am forgetting.§
“Ah, yeah, but he’s a yank, mate. Thinks he’s hot shit ‘cause he’s from California or somewhere,” says another woman with a face full of those little brown dots humans seem to find so charming. I can never remember what they’re called.
“But — but, he’s a rock God,” their sunburnt friend chimes in.
Down on the shore, a man in black bathing shorts and long brown hair like seaweed wears colossal, ear-covering headphones. I’d rather listen to conch shells, but perhaps he enjoys radiation and cochlear deterioration. He taps out a steady beat on his towel and shakes his unruly kelp mane in a whirlpool around his pale head. After a few of my foaming waves on the shoreline, he pulls a bag of crisps out from a black tote bag emblazoned with an electric green “M” on it, an emblem of some kind, I fathom. He pulls a black can with the same emblem on it out of a black box also bestowed with the emblem and chugs it with abandon. Those hideous mounds of plastic. I can already see this one floating on my waves, disturbing my kilometres of blue. It’ll be here for four centuries and a half. At least.
“Dude, we gotta be drinking more of these,” the man says. “They gave us forty free cases. They’re taking up too much room in the fridge. We needa stock the tour bus with more ready-made soups and whatnot,” seaweed hair man says.
“Can’t we just hand them out at the shows or something? They’re kind of gross. They taste like diesel fuel mixed with sweat. I mean, I honestly prefer Red Bull,” says a bearded man with long red hair. It reminds me of the lion mane jellyfish’s cascading tendrils. Oh, if only I could eject one at them from my depths right now.
“Or just coffee,” says another, also bearded, with black hair. “A Sumatran medium roast is where it’s at, really.”
“Hey, there’s a Java flavor. Here!” says seaweed man and tosses a can to his cringing companion.
No, I’ve never preferred the gangly, long-limbed creatures that roam the sand piles. They take up so much space. They think they’re the Poseidons of everything. Although, they inhabit only around 60% of the earth’s land surface (while water embodies about 71%) those sharp and smooth, low and high tones they emit from their upper orifices, the shapes they scribble onto paper and tap into their hand computers, have such an impact on me. (My spies, the lakes, ponds, rivers, fish tanks and toilet bowls relay the appropriate data for me to make the aforementioned calculations. I’d be a runt sardine not to mention that they have similar complaints, as well.) The turf creatures should have a bit more respect. I’ve been here for over 11,700 years, since the last glacial period, meanwhile, they’ve only just arrived.
Auch! There it is, the worst of the tastes. The vile liquid of those leaky children! Puh! Why doesn’t anyone ever drop black truffles or 100-year aged oak barrel whiskey or anything like that in here? [There was a cluster of corporate creatures here once talking about sending a vessel of weaved wicker filled with the two delicacies to some sharply lapeled creature by the name of “CEO.” They were attempting to woo him or some such thing. They described these nourishment items in lavish detail, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try them myself.]
Oh, I care for my fish — snapper, bluefin, albacore, whiting — my gummy sharks and dusky flatheads, my coral reefs and sponges a million times more than those lanky turf pedestrians. My inhabitants are leagues more considerate, not to mention easier on the eyes.
// A string snaps // A scrawny teenager, all bone, and sharp, jutting angles falls into me at high tide. His kite topples down next to him in a wispy heap. He releases mangled screams from behind his thin, snaking mustache and shudders as his body hits a jagged wave. I** drag him and his measly surf board far out toward my horizon.
“Ahhfff,” he cries, his mouth filling with saltwater†† though I don’t think that’s a word. It could, however be one I have not yet acquired. These creatures, I seldom can fathom what is it they’re talking about.‡‡
If only I possessed a gravitational pull like the moon (my mother,
as she calls herself although she is more like obtrusive stepmother) ,
I could amass together the most daggerlike stones of my shallows,
then borrow a gust of aerodynamic oxygen from the atmosphere to
plunge them into the turf creatures’ sides. The stones would cut gills
into their flanks to allow them to breathe underwater like my anthropods,
mollusks, cnidaria and chordata. Maybe they’d be more gentle if they
lived underwater. Could they morph into peaceful, minuscule minnows?
Or would they all grow into sharks?
†M O O N: laughs breathily while looking down Well, my sweet, it turns out thee was half-right. Did none of thy fair aquatic debris teach you about evolution?
‡My my, I see thee inhabits the upper echelons of angst today. The reason why thee continues thine combative ways against thy mother eons after I have forgiven thee for embarking on a wayward path occurs to me not.
§Thee is, my sweet; thy memory is eroded by thy constant turbulent crashing, a vital, yet slightly amnesic movement —> Thine evaporated recollection here reminds me of the way you seem to have buried my forgiveness of you for not manifesting as a mass of glowing star stuff, and instead as your earthly aqueous material. Why cannot we simply be harmonious, I ask thee, shape-shifting, temperamental son, instead of drifting calmly only to break with an air-collapsing crash the way we do? Thee will never speak of it with me though, that (amongst all other things), I know. Thee thinks we are too starkly distinguished in our states as solid versus liquid, rooted versus “floating” (as thee describes my orientation), celestial vs. earthly, “controlling” versus controlled to ever truly reverberate in the same language.
Christine Lavosky is a recent graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Writing program. In addition to composing fiction, she edits memoirs for independent clients and writes freelance articles about psychology, travel, health and music. She has been known to explore unique cemeteries while on vacation and her favorite TV show is David Farrier’s “Dark Tourist.”