Feet First


The wharf cut the cerulean sky and water in two, and then segued into one unbroken depth of color at the end of its’ expanse.  Naiya was surrounded by fishermen and lovers walking the wooden boards, but she didn’t notice.  She took in the smell of the sea, the taste of the salt, the screeching of the raucous gulls riding the waves next to the wharf, hoping for fish scraps.  She saw the fins of the dolphins out beyond the breakwater; struck by their freedom and good sense to come no further towards shore. It wasn’t kind here; a fact she knew like breathing.  She felt a storm brewing in her, threatening
her with a cloud of darkness she wished would be whisked away with the wind off the sea.

Fresh flowers floated on the water’s surface near the wharf and Naiya wondered who had died; who had spread them in a loved one’s memory, a custom for the native islanders?  She leaned over the edge of the railing to watch the flowers drifting around the pylons, up under the crashing waves, and marveled at how they emerged, still whole, to carry their colors further up the beach.  The shore was dotted with the flowers, some up on the beach far enough from the waves to remain, others ran in and out with the sea and she imagined them reaching for the sand, desperate for a grip.

Without a thought, Naiya climbed the railing and became airborne and flying. She was flailing and screaming, her body gleaming in the rays of the sun.  She had never learned to dive.  She hit the flowers and the water feet first in a cacophony of sound and color.  The gulls who had been riding the waves flew up in surprise and circled where she had entered the water.  Naiya dug her toes into the sand in the warm womb of the sea and remained suspended for a moment, looking up and watching the petals fill in the opening she had made in their midst.  She propelled herself up with a thrust and burst out through the flowers to breathe in their fragrance and the ocean air.  She allowed the waves to carry her towards the beach while she floated amongst the blooms and only when she felt the sand scrub at her back did she stand up.  

Naiya heard a noise from the pier and turned to see people at the railing calling to her, but she couldn’t understand their words; she only heard the ocean breeze in her ears and the gulls circling overhead, cackling at her, either prideful or
taunting, she wasn’t sure. She turned from the people, digging her toes in the sand as she walked towards home, knowing she would survive the storm.