“What of Others?”

Photo courtesy of Michael Schuck

Arriving befuddled, without claim or boundary, Others enters his new universe through a portal accessing the saltwater of the Pacific.

After “splashing down”, Others desperately wants to swim back against the strong riptide to his family and familiarity at the shoreline, but has a measure of doubt about his ability to return. The only option left is to give in and ride the current out towards Calm, waiting beyond the breaking waves.

While being pulled out towards the reefs end, Others looks back at the shrinking figures on the beach just before confronting the first of four giant waves before him. At the top of the first breaker he gets his first glimpse of “her”.

The sun, without regard for Other’s dilemma, innocently radiates down through the wispy summer clouds and plays off the foam and whitecap. The sound of crashing surf and seagulls fades until Others finds himself alone, far away from shore, captive to the heavy undertow hosting the dead seaweed and creatures of the deep.

After negotiating three massive waves separating him from Calm, Others heart begins racing. Losing air, he pops up from under the third giant breaker just a second before being confronted by a fourth monstrous swell about to crash into and over him. The steep wall of water forces Other’s head back away from the cresting peak. There is no other choice but to accept his inevitable submersion beneath the tonnage of Mother Nature’s liquid indifference.

Spinning uncontrollably, Others rotates like a human piece of sandpaper, grinding against the ocean floor.

Extending his arm in an effort to swim, he remains hostage to the sea, until reluctantly entering an altered dream state….The relentless spin decelerates until his outstretched arm morphs into an indicator on a great roulette wheel of chance. Others waits in wonderment on the new process unraveling before him. The blur of possible outcomes slowly comes into focus on a cartoonish spinning wheel hauntingly encircling him…”Courage”, “Honesty”, “Generosity”, “Temperance”, “Faith”, “Hope”, “Charity”, “Prudence”, “Wit”, “Modesty”, “Morality” and “Patience” all display in slow motion their candidacy.

With only a few rotations left, the options pair down from twelve to six. “Patience”, “Courage”, “Honesty”, “Hope”, “Morality”, and “Faith” survive the first cut before immediately halving again until only “Patience”, “Morality” and “Faith” remain.

Others listless arm drifts up towards the ocean surface, his fingers faintly click across the wheel’s iron boundaries hosting the three lone finalists. Another ten feet through the water and seaweed, he can see the faint outline of Calm shedding her tears into the Pacific. Unable to float beyond the spinning wheel between them, Others feels paralyzed and is overwhelmed by the weight in his limbs. He slowly sinks towards the sand below and opens his mouth wide in silent surrender. The ocean water rushes into his lungs as he commences the “Ocean’s Prayer”.

THE OCEAN’S PRAYER”

Beyond the reef, Calm resides

Above the breaking waves

She hovers patiently

Over all virtuous

The ray, the perch and squid

But, what of Others?

Her salted tears fill the ocean

Float the seaweed

Raise the tide

Take back the sand crabs

But what of Others?

Her brother, Wind, whispers to the seagull

“Beyond the reef the answer lies……”

Simon Birdsong