The Descendent

The color was supersaturated. After I walked past the green and pink plants plastered against the heavy midnight screen, I wondered where the moon was. It was unnatural. Perhaps I should have gone back. I pushed through the gate, which locked behind me. I didn’t mind; I kept walking.

“Trust me, says the ocean, vast and deep atop pearl sand.” And I search for an honest ripple. The moon perches on the ink. My feet are pulled into the water. I do not trust the ocean tonight, as I walk further toward the moon. A ring of cold at my waist where the water meets the sky.

I see the light of the moon and dip my hands into the water, grasping for it. It is further down than I thought. I walk further out. Floating now, as the floor of the ocean draws back from the soles of my feet. Why is it so elusive, that light? It is just beneath me now. I reach down again and the ocean shakes with laughter, mocking me. The water is clear in the sun. And I can see the moon at the bottom now.

I let myself sink.

The moon disappears beneath the sand.

I descend to the bottom to uncover it. How selfish of the ocean to conceal the moon. I dig in the sand. It floats upward, disturbed, and settles around my ankles. I stand at the bottom of the ocean, searching, searching.

I look up. My felt hat bobs many feet above my head. There’s the light. And I’m so far away. Sand fills in around my legs. There is no ripple at the bottom. As shells scratch against my shins, I stand, swaying like seaweed, my hair reaching, pulling me upward toward the light. I remain at the bottom.

But the ocean pities me. It explodes above me, and thousands of air droplets lift me up by my arms. My eyes close, and I am weightless.

I wake up in the sand. My sister sits next to me drying her fine, yellow hair, wringing her silk slip. She hands me my hat, and smiles.