Recently I’ve been conversing with another blogger here on WordPress. We have shared our struggles with sticking to a writing routine. Making it a habit.
Writing, you see, has to be a habit just like exercise and diet. I’ve been using this blog as a source to create that habit, but I’ve also wanted to dive into more creative writing, as well. Elizabeth, my new blogging friend, has inspired me to use some of my thoughts to write a short story.
Writing is part of my process, too. I’ve wanted to do creative writing and just couldn’t make myself get there. Everything I had ever written had been published. So I wrote to be published (except this blog) and not for the fun of it. Not to just tell a story.
Elizabeth had suggested that I use bits of dreams as a basis for a short story. I thought that was a brilliant idea, except I haven’t been able to remember any of my dreams for the past several months. That’s quite unfortunate, too, because I don’t feel right when I don’t dream … or at least don’t remember them.
Still, I had other sources I could use. You’ve seen me write blips of meditation visuals on here. I decided to take her advice and use a meditation as a source for a short story. Today, you get to experience my first short story published online. It’s an honor really. I jest. It’s an honor for me to get to write something creative.
So, thank you, Elizabeth for the encouragement. Oh, and one other thing about writing, you have to be willing to write and share bad writing before you can get good. Writing takes practice, just like anything else. So, forgive me if the story is hokey and poorly written. I have to start somewhere.
Other Fish: A Short Story
Sophie’s eyes fluttered open, squinting at the brightness. The soul of the universe beaming down at her from a cloudless sky. She had never been so happy to see the sun. No remnants of the previous night’s storm in sight.
Her body bobbed up and down along the surface of the water. She wasn’t sure why she was alive or how she was floating. Banged up and exhausted, she thought to investigate it but she was simply too tired to move.
The sounds of the water lapping around her were soothing. She let her body relax fully and gave thanks for being alive.
Eventually, she twisted her head, stiffly, to look for wreckage nearby. Surveying the horizon on all sides, no signs of the ship were visible. The waters were clear and bright turquoise. Tilting her head backwards, water sloshing into the tops of her ears, she saw a lush green island with a sparkling white sand beach.
“Where am I,” Sophie whispered to herself. “Where is the boat?”
She relaxed back into a restful floating position. Her body ached. Memories of the night before only vague.
She was on the deck of the ship along with the other guests. The storm popped up almost instantaneously. It took everyone by surprise. The torrential downpour, the howling wind. She could remember the storm clearly.
The sky had grown dark. The winds rotated and twisted the boat. Guests were unable to stay upright without holding onto the railings. Sophie struggled to maintain her grip as the storm picked up power.
She had gone on the cruise at the recommendation of friends.
“Oh, you’ll love it,” she recalled Lindsey telling her. “And who knows, you might meet someone.”
A couple of days on the ship and Sophie realized it was a mistake. She felt strangely trapped by the tight quarters. The ship made frequent stops, though, so she decided to focus on that and enjoy the short visits to the various islands.
Why do I listen to her?
She knew full well, though, she needed to get out more. Sophie signed up for the cruise to try something new, see some new places … and who knows, you might meet someone.
She recalled her thought processes clearly. It had been her decision all along. Now, she was here, floating in the ocean. Alone with no sight of the small ship or its guests.
There was peace in this feeling, though. As if something had been given to her, but she wasn’t sure what.
That storm was strange. It almost didn’t seem real.
In some ways, it wasn’t real, and yet, the ship was gone. Destroyed, she assumed. Her fellow travelers gone. And here, she floated on the surface of a beautiful crisp ocean.
How did I get here … how did I survive? She had no recollection of how she made it through the storm.
Sophie determined she had had enough rest. Despite her soreness, she needed to try to make her way to the island behind her. She lifted her head slightly to determine the damage to her body.
Her teal tank top had seen better days. She lifted her hands and ran them gently across her torso. Tattered and torn from struggles with the storm, the shirt at least covered the parts of her that needed to be covered.
A shimmer or sparkle below her hand caught her eye. She couldn’t quite see her legs due to the water lifting her midsection up higher than her head, and her head was barely tilted at that.
Did I have on sparkly shorts? She tried to recall her outfit from the night before. Finally, she managed to lift her head more to see her body.
Unsure of what she saw, she tried to lift her right leg. She was unable to raise just one side. Instead, a tail lifted and splashed back down to the water. In the bright sun, she only saw the silhouette, but she was certain it was a fishtail rather than her leg.
Using only her arms, she rotated in the water so the sun was behind her. Again, she lifted her leg. Again, a large fishtail rose into the sky. She raised the tail once more and held it up for a greater inspection. The silvery scales sparkled with iridescent shades of blue and green.
“What the hell,” she thought out loud.
She let that tail fall back into the water. Running her hands down her torso again, she felt where the skin ended and the scales began. It wasn’t a distinct line — more of a gradual shift from skin to scale.
I can barely swim? This doesn’t make any sense.
Sophie decided to give her new body a test drive. She began to swim as she normally would, swinging one arm overhead and then the other, kicking her legs behind her. When she kicked, though, it propelled her so far she didn’t need to use her arms.
With a deep inhale, she dove headfirst underwater. Her body felt stronger than ever as she propelled herself through the water. The ocean skimmed her body. Her breathing was effortless. It was a feeling like she had never had before.
The vastness of the ocean opened up before her. She spun in circles underneath the surface. Finally feeling as graceful as she had always dreamed after all those years of ballet lessons.
She slowed to enjoy the sunlight filtering through the ocean’s surface. The golden light shimmering through the waves of blue and green. The colors grew darker an more intense as she looked below her and out into the open sea.
She spent several hours swimming deeper and deeper into the ocean and then returning to the clearer waters of the island’s shoreline. A whole new world had opened up to her.
I can swim anywhere in the world. The thoughts began to race in her head. I can see any place I want. Except…
Sophie swam back toward the island and surfaced above the water. Slicking her hair back out of her face, she expelled excess water from her mouth.
There she bobbed for several minutes, staring at the island ahead of her. The stability of land she had always known.
What about my family and friends? Can I even go back onto land? Can I change back?
The exhilaration of her newfound freedom suddenly hit a wall. Reality set in. A panic filled her heart, and her lungs grew tighter with each breath.
She swam slowly closer to the shore. She felt a tingle in every cell of her body. If she moved further toward land, she knew she would change back.
Will I be able to change back into this again, though? She looked down at her body. Her tail swaying back and forth in the water below her.
She was certain she could go back to shore and change back into her human body. She felt it. At the same time, she had the idea that she could find her way back into her new body if she truly wanted it.
But was it the storm that did it? Would it take something that big to change me back again?
She wasn’t sure.
What about finding someone? The whole reason she had even ventured onto the cruise to begin with.
This thought gave her the most hesitation. She turned back to look at the ocean behind her. The vastness of this world. A world she had never seen. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
But what about love? Her heart sank. She had been in the water for hours without even an inkling there was anyone else like her out there. Love, the reason she existed. The reason she breathed.
Am I willing to give up on that just to swim around in the ocean?
She dove back into the water. Her swim this time much more deliberate. She took in all the sights without the rush of her powerful new body.
The peaceful sounds of the ocean filled her ears. No cell phones, no television, no distractions from anything.
Schools of fish swam past her. The sunlight streamed through the water, warming her as she passed through it. Making her way around the island, she inspected the colorful coral reefs brimming with life. Sea anemones swaying in the currents.
She had always known the ocean was beautiful, but this view was far better than anything she had seen in videos. Finally, she saw two seahorses floating near the coral reef. A couple together forever in this wide open ocean.
Sophie spun around and looked into the distance across the ocean floor. She felt strangely at home here. Closer to herself than she had ever felt on land. Powerful and confident. All the things she lacked back home, she felt here.
It’s a great big ocean, she thought as she stared ahead of her. There may be someone like me out there. Or maybe I’ll swim somewhere that will call me out of the ocean. Another place that will feel more like home. Where someone calls to me more than this is calling to me now.
She swam out from the shore and resurfaced. Her heart filled with excitement and sadness all at once. The thought of leaving everyone she knew was difficult. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“I’ll see you again,” she whispered toward the island. She splashed back into the water and sped off to discover her new world.