I stare at Aneta. I try to speak. But I haven’t used my non screaming voice for days now. Aneta is patient and happy and unassuming. She just floats next to me. I attempt to coax my vocal cords into single syllable words. I can’t remember how to form a sentence, even though I readily know how to scream. I drift there quietly–silently convincing myself to talk, to trust. Words finally escape between labored breaths, “I am Maryn. Just Maryn.”

She grins and replies immediately, “Hi, Just Maryn.”

Before an awkward silence can fill our ears, she launches into nonstop chatter. 

“Well, Maryn. It’s so good to meet you. I’ve been floating here just beyond your Island for awhile now. Well, it feels like forever. I saw the storm over there and could see your shadow. Well, at least I think it must be your shadow. And anyhow, you were so brave to walk to the end of your shore and embrace the great wide open. Well, I’m sure you felt like you were plummeting. I felt that way too. Ocean took awhile to get used to, but well, Ocean is turning out to be a beautiful kind of place. It’s the only place I can safely be. My Island wasn’t safe, and well, that’s along story.”

Her words are tumbling out faster than I can keep up and I never knew anyone who could say, “well” so often and between so few words. Either she really is joyful about this Ocean-place or she’s out of her mind. It could be either one. I’m not convinced of anything yet. My thoughts are interrupted by,

“Well, do ya?!” Aneta is staring at me expectantly.

“Uh, um, do I what?”I stutter, embarrassed to have missed her question. 

“Do you want to see your new home? It has a name and everything. It’s called Peace. Isn’t that pretty?”

My cheeks grow a deeper shade of red as a long pause follows her question. I am unfamiliar with a name like Peace. It sounds odd and awkward to my ears, almost like a silky red theater curtain ready to pull back and exploit my wounds—wounds so deep and dangerous that I would rather not expose them even to myself. 

But Aneta doesn’t let me answer and pays no attention to the deepening shades of red—embarrassment, anger, hopelessness. I am all three openly. 

Aneta grabs my cold hand and I hope it doesn’t feel the way Old Maryn’s did. If Aneta’s shocked by its clammy coldness, she doesn’t say so. Instead, she lets out an excited, “I’ll lead the way.”

I don’t want to follow her, but her strength and sense of purpose pulls me through the depths of this unknown life called Ocean. As we move through the water, I notice Aneta’s hair is curly-blonde and dry. My stringy hair, more brown than anything else, is plastered in sections down my back. 

I am nothing like Aneta. 

Before I can work through any more of my troubled thoughts, Aneta abruptly stops at a clustered pile of seaweed skimming the Ocean’s surface. “Well, this is Peace”, she exuberantly states. 

Disbelief colors my blue eyes with shock. This is Peace? This? It’s nothing but a green and yellow smashed together tangled mess of things that should stay underwater. 

I watch as Aneta stares at Peace with old, familiar eyes of home. And I wonder how she could view this as anything good or right or well. Before I am able to swim and out and away to the emptiest part of Ocean, Aneta places her hands on the edge of Peace and lifts her body to the top of the pile. 

Her dress is intricate and undeniably pretty.

It is not made of dead flowers like mine. 

It is gorgeous, unscathed by the salty water, vibrant, hope-filled (if that is possible at all), and filled with flowers in the prettiest shades of violet, turquoise, and sunflower yellow. It is undamaged, free-flowing, and made more beautiful by the contrast of the seaweed which I now notice sparkles in the sunlight.

Ocean is the strangest mystery to me. Ocean has ruined me. Ocean has pulled me away from myself, all I made, and who I thought I was. 

Ocean is terrible. 

Ocean feels like loss to me, but Ocean may be my only chance for a dress like Aneta’s.

I reluctantly pull myself onto the floating seaweed. The sparkling effect only seems to highlight everything my garment lacks. I wear dead things—old hopes and dreams, forged realities, deep losses, and apathetic years.

Aneta doesn’t seem to notice my unease or my dress of dead things, and I’m thankful. 

Again before any awkward silence can stretch between us, Aneta begins speaking. 

But not to me.

“Well, thank You for Peace, for this gentle home on Ocean. And thank You for the sparkling way it glimmers in the sunlight. How I love all the light you make! And thank you for Maryn, my new friend! And for the way you safely brought her to Ocean and for how you rescued her from the depths. You know I couldn’t get there. I tried. And well, You reminded me I can help but I can’t rescue. . . just You, the Light-Maker. Well, I’m going to enjoy the sun now and pass the hours until sunset.”

Aneta ends her conversation (cheerful yet deeply genuine) and turns to talk to me, but I’m not listening. I used to know the Light-Maker, but I can’t remember a time I genuinely shared myself with Him like Aneta just did. 

An uncomfortable dawning spreads through my heart, and I realize the Grace that rescued me from drowning belongs to the Light-Maker too. But why would His rescue require that I stay here on Ocean?

And yet. . . listening to Aneta speak to the Light-Maker beckons the thought that maybe there’s more to Ocean than the loss I feel. Regardless, I want this dress of dead things gone. I hate it. And I have no confidence how any part of this awful dress could change out here. My Island held all the flowers–all the beauty and all the good. Why did I stay on this clump of seaweed? I can’t possibly turn back to my Island now. Aneta wouldn’t let me jump off Peace if I tried.

Sunset seems far away, but I’ve so much to think about. I lie on Peace, feeling hope, feeling numb, feeling like I have no idea how this dress of dead things is going to be anything else. 

Ocean is scary. 

But Ocean is my whole life now.

Copyright © 2019 Sierra V. Fedorko, All rights reserved.

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