‘The earth is melted
Into the sea
By that same reckoning
Whereby the sea
Sinks into the earth’
She never trusted herself far out to sea, the diminishing land on the horizon reminding her too much of death and dissolution. But the landlocked cave where she dwelt, a place of aqueous echoes and sheltered waves, was topped by a vast cliff by the strait and rose in a curve far out to sea. Below the thrusting peak crowned with stunted Live Oaks, was the dark sea with depths unknown. But this curious finger of earth reached out for the forbidden place where everything drowned, even the ones that called it home. It was on the cliff that Glauca could feel the firm earth and see it give way to water and air. As the wind whipped the waves against the rocks far below, she swore she could see the water turning into rock and the rock becoming water.
The girl knew that fire was the great ravisher and it, too, fell back into things when it was exhausted. But the smoke that remained after the town of Anthedon had burned reminded her more of chaos than rest. Whatever the fire was meant to purge was gone with all the others. After enough suffering, even the screams sounded like a trick of the wind and the flames. Ashes blew towards the sea and Glauca had followed them. Her rowboat was already there and her nets were twitching in the shallows with fish for the dead. Had it not been for her own habits, she would have sworn the gods existed and had provided for her.
Now her boat remained on the shore, just another bit of her past fixed in time. The cool baths she took in her cave where the sea was subject to the protective walls of rock were as close as Glauca came to returning to the boundless realm of Oceanus. Food for one was simple enough to procure from the cliff. As she watched her line grow taut in the current, she squeezed the fishing pole until her knuckles went white. When the breeze became a gust, she added a few words to the vacuous evening air.
‘Farewell, the sea never more my palace,
All the water I need will fill my chalice,
Your salty depths are death to fire,
If I wasn’t grateful I’d be a liar,
But here I sit neither girl nor fish,
To be a bird is beyond my wish,
I live in gray and belong nowhere,
If my brother were here he sure would stare,
A cave is where I sleep tonight,
If anyone hears me be sure I bite’
Pleased with her song but hating she had fallen into rhyming couplets, Glauca sat down and let her legs dangle over the edge of the cliff. She dared herself to look down as she leaned forward. Far below, the sea looked like an animated emerald as the fading light cast sparkles on the surface while the sea foam hissed as it drifted into nameless shapes composed of countless little bubbles. Schools of tiny dark fish gathered in the turbulent water beneath the cliff and appeared to be a singular beast conjured from the deep. Beyond eyes subject to the air, Glauca knew secret things loomed in the depths where the crushing weight of a thousand shallows pressed down eternally.
Just as the pastel fingers of the sun receded from the horizon, Glauca’s fishing line bowed her pole. Her able hands refused to let go as the tension mounted, even when she was tumbling headlong over the cliff towards the sea. For a moment, time stopped and Glauca stared at the surface of the water staring back at her with its infinite eyes. The last glimmer of day winked at her before all was absolute white followed by the nothingness of darkness.
‘Neither a green monster of the deep,
Or a fictive maid who’s meant to weep,
The sea-god has many names but this,
She is no man and no kin of Dis,
Proteus knows his changing ways,
But she denied and wasted days,
Living in the thin air on land,
A sea-change was no small demand,
She cursed her home and played with time,
Forgetting her realm, the sea sublime’
When she opened her eyes, Glauca could still hear the voice singing in her head, a voice of no one, but a no one she recognized. As she blinked away the confusion, she felt like a thousand oceans had been poured over her head. If she had chewed the stalk of the plant that made illusions, she would not have felt more displaced. Glauca stood up slowly and saw the watery moon rising low on the horizon. She felt no pain but for the first time since the Great Purge, she could taste the briny air. To her surprise, her body still possessed a grace as she sauntered about. There was no pain, only the discomfort of the ringing in her ears and pressure in her head.
It had been a long time since Glauca had been on the open sea but the distance the tide must have carried her was beyond belief according to the location of the moon. For a moment, she decided an entire day had passed and she had drifted unconscious a whole sun cycle through. But thirst and hunger were not clawing from within. She was almost content as she strolled along the sandy ground without even thinking of which way was North.
“It’s about time,” a familiar voice said from behind.
“What?” Glauca muttered, without turning around.
“How do you like this side of Anthedon?”
“No, no, no,” Glauca cried, closing her eyes. “Anthedon was destroyed in the…by the…what’s the word?”
“You mean the great ravisher. You can open your eyes. Most don’t even blink around these parts, haha.”
“Give me a moment. I fell. I need to remember that word. Earth, air, water…”
“Don’t try to conjure what doesn’t exist.”
As Glauca went through the alphabet internally to find the word, she opened her eyes at the letter, ‘~*~’. Before her, a tall woman with streamlined limbs and flowing red hair was blinking at Glauca with green eyes. But with every blink, the woman’s eyes changed color according to the breeze. The woman smiled as she watched Glauca sorting through the encounter with flailing arms and uncertain legs.
“Take your time,” the woman smiled. “You’ll remember.”
“I can’t remember what I never knew,” Glauca almost shouted.
“It’s natural to fight it at first. You just have to let it take you.”
“Let what take me? I sure as the gods know what it means to lose. What was that word? It rhymes with liar! Damnit. So close I can taste it. Liar, higher, dire, hire…I’m in the mire—“
“Getting close. Will you trust me?”
“I haven’t seen anyone in a couple of years. Aren’t I supposed to? To fall in your arms and thank you for finding me? Call you my savior? Call you mother?”
“Not exactly,” the woman laughed. “And, no, I’m not your mother. How do I not make this confusing?”
“Too late for that.”
“Tell me the word I’m looking for and we’ll call it even. And if you can point me the way back to my—“
Glauca laughed to herself as she looked up at the soft night sky. As she did, the woman drifted up into her line of sight and beckoned for Glauca to join her. The girl stared in wonder at the trick the woman had played. She squeezed her toes in the silky sand before she reached up and felt herself drift up towards the woman. Feeling the elegant complexity of the trick taking hold, Glauca took a breath from her sides and tilted towards another part of the emptiness. In the midst of the woman’s laughter just behind her, Glauca felt the nourishment of the sea water passing through her reawakened gills just below her ribcage. She blinked to the woman and heard her companion blink back. The memory of land and the mythical name of the great ravisher passed through the girl as surely as the water did. With every remembrance of the nature of things in her ocean realm, the memories of who and what she was returned and took hold of her frontal lobe as if they had always been there.
When the sea turned dark at the setting of the moon, Glauca paused and drifted wherever the currents took her. She tried to pronounce her old friend’s name but her tongue was still trying to contend with the words only her eyelids could articulate. Feeling the wind blow high above across the surface of the water, Glauca wept. Her nameless companion looked at her and laughed as she heard Glauca’s eyelids speak without thought, only feeling.
“If only you knew what you just said,” the nameless one laughed, before swimming into the darker depths.