The woman has been motionless for a few days. When the Ocean storms rage, we cover her with our hand-made seaweed blankets. The seaweed is sun-dried, abundant, and surprisingly warm though lightweight.

I watch as the dying woman breathes. Aneta’s shift is about to begin. Our time is devoted to this woman’s lungs. Keeping her warm, shielding her from the sun, making sure her shallow breaths get through and begin again.

My Island is barely a shadow in my memory now. I contemplate Old Maryn. Is she still about to die? Is she still ragged and desperate? Is she still in the meadow or was that destroyed too? I shake my head to rid the questions. I do not want to get lost in the nightmares of my Island. . .it is enough to endure Ocean for another night.

Aneta places her hand on my shoulder to signal her shift has begun. The sunset is glorious, but my eyes are heavy. Our home adheres to the gentle cadence of the water. No storms tonight. I exhale, relieved.

At dawn, I wake instantly and my breathing becomes like the whitewater rapids. Is another grief wave coming? I turn my head in every direction, watching for any sign of one. I notice Aneta has accidentally fallen asleep. Nothing else looks out of place.

“Where am I?”, the gaunt woman’s raspy voice tells of trauma.

My pulse returns to normal and my body slumps forward. No grief waves. . .just curious, uncertain eyes desperate for understanding.

I smile with relief and hold the woman’s hand.

“This is Peace. You’re safe.”

She glances at me, stares at the seaweed, screams at the expanse of Ocean, then wraps her arms around her body.

I squeeze her hand and say, “I hated it too. Still do sometimes.”

She falls against my shoulder and though she is no longer dying, her vacant eyes reveal her life is fledgling. I wonder if my eyes look like hers.

“What’s your name?”

The exhausted woman answers me like a robot.

“It’s Stella.”

I use my cold, aching fingers to comb out the knots in her hair. I am ill-equipped for this, but I remember the manzanita, and I push through the discomfort of caring for another.

“Hi, Stella. I am Maryn. Aneta and I are here. Ocean feels like forever, but I’ve seen some good things happen in the span of forever.” I can hardly believe these are the words leaving my mouth that harbors so many screams, so many angry, bitter cries.

But here I am.

And here is Ocean.

And it’s true. . .I’ve seen good things out here.

Stella’s stiff body suddenly convulses with the need for reassurance. “AM I SAFE? AM I?” Her robotic tone now cracks with passionate fear.

“This is Peace. Yes, you’re safe, Stella.”

I am gentle in my reply, because her world has changed and she loathes Ocean and she can’t feel anything good yet.

Stella’s body relaxes. Her breathing finds a better rhythm and her vacant eyes glimmer with acceptance as she lies on her side to sleep. I adjust Stella’s blanket. The Ocean air rifles with Stella’s hair, but it looks more like a dance than a tangled up mess.

I quietly step to the edge of Peace and avoid the grand mirror made of gentle and tumultuous water. Stella and I are so much alike, but how do my eyes look now? I close them tight, too afraid to look down into the Ocean mirror. I don’t want to see the eyes that will stare back at me.

As the sun pushes itself further into the sky, the rays of light shelter my body and enhance the unchosen beautiful orange of my dress. Courage pulses through me as the light gets in and I finally look down.

Staring back is hope. . . fierce and gentle. . .old and young. These eyes do not speak of life barely holding on; they whisper of life learning to live again.

Ocean is more than grief, terror, and foreverness.

Ocean has split me open to new life.

Ocean is giving light a home in me.

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

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