This is part three of a three-part story, inspired by a quote from Haruki Murakami. It contains adult themes, so might not be suitable for younger readers. I hope you enjoy!
I kick against the water, pushing myself towards the surface. I‘m far beneath though, and the current is strong. It’s pressing hard against my face and grabbing my ankles, trying to drag me down. I use my arms to pull myself against it, but the current launches itself at me; the swirls of the water form the shape of a monster and it snarls. With its claws, it grabs my shoulders and forces me back, even though I’m trying so hard to finally move forward.
I used have the same dream each night. I was about five, and I would lie in the blue room, cocooned under a collection of heavy blankets. When the lights were switched off, I would close my eyes and see the waves. They were huge and unfriendly, and, on the surface, there was just one little boat trying to stay a float. Under the black sky, I dreamed they grew into the size of mountains. I didn’t want to watch; I didn’t want to witness these waves take this little wooden boat that, for some reason, meant the world to me. But there was nothing else I could do; I stood on the rocks and watched as the waves broke it apart, piece by piece.
I used to wake up, above the blankets, with my forehead dotted in sweat. I would then look at the window and wonder if the waters just across the road was a fierce as the ones in my mind.
I fight it.
Thrashing wildly, I scramble away from the monster and swim upwards. I’m not even sure what direction I am going, or if a tribe of those water creatures are waiting for me near the surface. So really, I’m swimming through this heavy-weighted blackness with no idea of what’s waiting for me.
Then I see them.
I once read that jellyfish were bioluminescent: they could produce their own light. I remember watching them float around in an aquarium, bright and inviting, and all the while I was thinking of the ones I used to find dead on the shore. I also once read that they had no heart, so I wondered how could they possibly be dead if their hearts never started beating in the first place. I remember feeling sorry for them, but now I wonder if it’s a good thing to have a heart at all.
In the water, there are hundreds of them. They are like fairy dust, or angels; they are little sparks of light that I can see but I’m too afraid to touch. They light up the waters in a purple-blue haze, and I can see my way. I follow, making sure not to disturb them, and watch as they slowly move past me. They dance between each other; their skirts falling gently like silk. I used to dance, like them; I used to move up and down those old rickety wooden floors, and spin so my dress would catch and twirl with me. I thought in someone’s eyes, I was bioluminescent too. I never thought I was though. I just thought that maybe, it was a nice thought, to be seen that way even if I couldn’t see it myself.
The waves crash against the little boat. The wood cracks.
Beneath me, there is a rumble; the water creature has returned. It has grown to the size of a dragon, and has sharp horns growing out of its skin. It reaches for me; I try to pull away, but I’m too late. This time, it has a hold and it won’t let go.
I’m dragged back. I grab at the water but there’s nothing I can hold on to. I am almost completely back in that ruthless, suffocating darkness, but I won’t let it take me. So, I reach out again, this time holding on to memories. Good ones; ones that surpass the pain and the tears, and I hold on tight. And these memories, they reach out to me – the fairy dust and the angels, the little flashes of light.
I hold out my hand and the jellyfish wrap their tentacles around it, and pull against the monster. They do not sting my skin, but they do mark it slightly, and when they reach out for the monster’s claws it retracts and releases me. They pull me towards the surface then, and with their help I start to swim.
I fell to the ground once. I skid for a moment along the concrete. It tore the skin on my hands, knees and slightly above my head. I remember lying for a moment, waiting for the pain to come rushing through my body. It did eventually, it travelled through me, prickling my skin like little fireworks being set off all at once. I closed my eyes and screamed.
I was the girl who would walk into the ocean, and who would twirl on the wooden floors; I was the girl who loved seeing colours in the smallest of things. I was the girl who would grin, and lie in the daisy fields, and feel the heat of the sun on my face. I was that girl. But I was also the girl who was broken, who had firework skin. I was the girl who dream of mountain waves and twisted skies. I was also the girl who had been so deeply hurt.
I break the surface of the water, and finally take a breath. The waters have settled, but my raft is gone. Instead, in its place, is my little boat. It has been waiting for me all this time.
I pull myself aboard and look back at where I came. The clouds are still unsettled and the waves tall, but I turn my head away and, instead, look at what’s ahead. I have no idea where I’m going, but under the water the jellyfish continue to light the way, creating a path for me to follow. I smile to myself; I am not who I was before, and that’s okay. I have jellyfish scars and firework skin, and I’m proud of them. I’m proud because they are my marks of strength, aren’t they? My proof that I will be stronger than I ever was before.
The sun is rising, just beyond the horizon. Its light rests on my face. I close my eyes and hear the birds and imagine everything I will become.
Look at this world. Look at where I am.