by Ayla Lyonne
A young woman finds she has not only found a majestic world, but a new identity as well.
| The water, the sea, the deviant lifeforce that claims whatever it pleases and rejects whatever it pleases, rose up and claimed me as it's own. I don't remember much about that night. Except that the stars were beautiful and the waves were choppy and white with seafoam. I had decided to take a walk along the beach to try and locate a good spot to set up my telescope and do some star-gazing. It was a perfect night for it. The black sky was completely clear of clouds and the stars sparkled like diamonds. I had been walking for about fifteen minutes, when I saw a flat rock out-cropping, jutting out into the sea like a long black serpent. I walked up onto the large rock and set up my telescope, aiming in the general direction of north. My preoccupation with the constellations had become more than a hobby. The stars were my life. I was happiest when I was able to be with my telescope and a clear view of the night sky. I felt a sense of peace and oneness with the universe that I had never felt in any other aspect of life. I could stay that way for hours, not even noticing events unfolding around me. Which was what happened the night of September 19th, 2009. After settling into a slightly cramped and uncomfortable position, I set to studying the stars.
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The first thing I remember after my descent into the murky unknown is the smell. It smelled, not salty, as one would expect, but of spiced flowers, magnolias, maybe, and something else. Some underlying smell, like putrid halitosis, slowly burning my senses as if an aftertaste of scent. Knowing I had only a few precious moments before my oxygen ran out and I truly became unconscious, I made a last effort to swim upwards and break the surface. I kicked my legs and used all of my strength to push the water away and propel myself to the surface. The water began to get lighter and I thought I had only a few feet before I would once again see the moon and the stars that I so loved. Then, a light, swirling motion at my feet slowed my progress. I kicked with all my might, but I was slowly being dragged back down into the depths. Frantic, I cried out and lost the last bit of oxygen I had in my lungs. As I watched the bubbles of air heading toward the surface, to a world I would probably never see again, I went unconscious
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I awoke in a groggy daze. Opening my eyes took some effort, and when finally I succeeded, I thought perhaps I had gone blind. I saw nothing but black, very dark blue, and vague lines in the distance that seemed blacker than black.
I blinked a few times and squinted. It didn't help. I thought maybe I was dead; in Purgatory, perhaps. I wasn't as terrified at the notion of being dead as thought I would've been. Yes, there were things I had wanted to accomplish in life; forgiveness I'd denied to those who deserved it. Yet, at the same time, I couldn't help but look at what I was experiencing as an adventure.
I tried moving my arms. They moved slowly, as if weighted down by some invisible force. I tried moving my legs. Trying first my left and then my right, I was horrified to feel only a slight tugging sensation in my muscles. It was as if my legs wanted to work, but couldn't remember how. I tried to lift both of my legs at the same time. My body seemed to protest, so I tried to wriggle myself toward the lines. In the first few inches, my body seemed to start moving of it's own accord. The bottom half of my body moved in a way so alien to me that it startled me to a stop. The best way I can describe it is that my legs were now one giant muscle. My feet were almost completely connected, and stuck out on either side. When I moved, my new 'tail' pumped up and down, propelling me forward.
Stunned, I temporarily forgot all about my thoughts of death. I quickly came to realize that the darkness surrounding me was not Purgatory, but ocean water.
And I was breathing. 'I am alive.' I thought to myself. 'I'm alive, and I'm underwater.' I felt panic rising up inside me. Instead of giving into the fear, I forced myself to think of this as another, albeit stranger, adventure.
"After all," I said aloud, "how many people have the chance to experience something like this? I'm not going to let the fear of the unknown prevent me from being a part of something so profoundly incredible."
A shadow fell over me, and a voice spoke suddenly from behind me, "I'm certainly glad you feel that way, Encantado."
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Thank you for taking the time to consider my story. It is a work in progress, but I am happy with how it has progressed so far. I'm excited to see how I can develop it further.