Close your eyes, draw your sight inwards, and let me take you to an alien world located right here on Earth.
You stand on a beach by the edge of the sea.
Listen, do you hear the crash of rolling waves against the breakers, the hissing of water crawling up and down the tide line, the rustling of the grass upon the dunes?
Breath in, do you taste the salt in the air, the hot scent of sand baking under the sun?
Do you feel the wind blowing, ruffling your clothes and teasing your hair, the cooling spray in the air, the grainy softness of the sand beneath your feet?
Good. Focus on how all of that feels because you’re about to leave these familiar sensations behind. Start walking towards the surf. Don’t open your eyes just yet, let the damp coolness of the wet sand and fizzle of sea foam lead you in the right direction. You might feel a jolt as the cold water washes up over your feet but don’t worry, this is a journey of the senses. You may experience sensations that will likely feel completely removed from your experience but nothing that you encounter will harm you, this I promise.
You continue to walk out into the water. Where before there were waves slamming the air out of your lungs in chilling gasps there is now only a uniform feeling of coolness. The ocean water is now up to your neck, the swells now wrapping around you in a thick, fluid blanket. the cold now feels comforting and the smell of salt is strong in your nostrils.
Now, I’m going to ask you to do two things. The first step is easy: put your head under the water. By now you should be able to deal with the sudden chill quite easily. The roar of the surf has now taken on a strange dual quality, both muffled and yet somehow enhanced by your ear, which are more familiar with the air. Coupled with the thick embrace of the water is the gentle, weightless pull of the ocean as you’re rocked by the waves. It’s almost like being back in the womb.
I do not make that reference in passing, for your senses, your experiences, you are about to be reborn. This won’t be easy, I know, and I also know that what I am about to ask you to do will go against every instinct that you have, but you must do this before opening your eyes or else you will panic and rebel before our journey has even started. Remember, nothing here can hurt you. Now…
Calmly now, that’s it. Good, your acceptance of the ocean on your senses made that oddly easy, didn’t it? I can see by your face that you’re more focused on this odd new sensation, like inhaling thick winter air, than you are on the possibility of drowning. I am glad that your trust in me was enough to see you through the hardest part, it speaks of your curiosity and willfulness to explore. Now, traveler, open your eyes!
There’s never really another sight that can match that first one. Ahead of you the sea floor stretches away, sandy and rippled by the swelling water while waves cap overhead like dancing clouds. Pockets of sea grass dance on the liquid wind, here and there algae-covered rocks are strewn about. The sand under your feet is still cold but flows and gives way now like it did back on the beach. It’s almost like you’re still there, and in fact you are. The only differences are that everything is mirrored and you’re breathing underwater. Strange, that.
A burst of color catches your eye and you turn to your left as a flamboyant orange fish darts off across the sand. You give chase before it can fade off into the blue haze that is the sky in this world. Your movements are slowed, almost exaggerated by the resistance of the cool water, yet you have no trouble keeping up, its thick embrace flowing over your face as you stride forward, pulling your hair back into a slick wave that follows you around like a tail of your own.
Chasing the orange fish across the sand, you travel deeper down the watery beach. Leaping over a small boulder you land among a group of crabs, sending them into an angry scuttle, waving lifted arms and waggling their stalk-eyes at you in protest at having disturbed them. You’ve gone beyond the “beach” now and entered the “dunes” of this mirror world. Tall sea grass and sea weeds spread out in every direction. You stop at the edge, unsure of which orange fish is the one you were following as there are now scores of them. Not just orange, either, but a riot of of colors flash before you as fish of every hue dart here and there, both in schools and individually.
You take an exploratory step into the tall grass. The weeds feel sticky and a bit like cellophane as they wrap around your legs in the watery wind but the grass feels familiar enough with an added tickle to it. Confidently you start walking further out into the field, trying to find your orange fish again. There, over by the crop of boulders, the one with the star-shaped white marking behind the head. It swims away again as you move nearer, but then the grass begins to stir around the boulders.
The large Nurse Shark that sleepily rises out makes you think it wasn’t you the fish was avoiding. The shark floats before you, seemingly unconcerned by you in any other way except curiosity. It begins to swim forward in an unhurried manner and is soon circling you. The wash from its big tan body washes over and around you and occasionally you feel a fin or the animal’s side rub against you like smooth leather. Perhaps it’s trying to figure out what this alien is. It must be satisfied with its inspection, for after one more lazy pass it turns and smoothly moves some distance away before settling back down, lost amid the waving grasses once more.
Turning back now to the collection of boulders, you climb up to take a rest before adventuring on. As you lie back and spread out across one of the broader stones, you gaze up at the Sun rippling above, casting its rays down through the water like so many searching little fingers. The orange fish swims across your field of vision over head but you’re in no mood to rush this trip. The ocean is vast and there is much to see, where you journey next I leave up to you, friend.
Of course, if you should ever want any suggestions, feel free to let me know. We turtles do get around, you know.
via Daily Prompt: Atmospheric
I do not suggest that sea turtles breathe water. 😉
Edit: I accidentally made the orange fish yellow in one paragraph, it was corrected.