Dancing in the Sea

Amelia Morgan 2018

It was a warm evening with a cool breeze blowing off the sea. The townspeople gathered by the shore, their feet dancing the well-known steps in the sand. The ocean was a calm blue and the sky was the colour of a coral reef. An egg yolk sun sat comfortably on the plate of the horizon, ready to be gobbled up by the night.

The far shore was a bustle of anglers hauling in mackeral bound by bamboo wires.

 ‘Perfect’ Mum would have said, twirling her hair between two fingers, as she always did. I would have agreed and smiled. The scene was so beautiful, I wished Mum could see it, and I knew she would if everything went as planned. My plan was to escape. I would leave the island at nightfall and go find Mum. Most people had given up hope, but I hadn’t, I never would.

Aunty Tirta would never allow me to go out far on my own, not even when Mum was around, so I had to be fast and leave while she was putting Sari to bed. Sari was only five and hadn’t coped well when Mum left. That is why I’m so determined to find Mum, for Aunty Tirta, for Sari, for me and for all the people that love her.

The sun had nearly set by the time I made my way to the back of the boat shed. The fishmongers were hauling in their last nets before they called it a night. I crept stealthily around the edge of the little wooden structure that stored the town’s boats and pulled mine from under a pile entangled seaweed and fishing nets. I quietly pushed my boat into the waves that were peacefully lapping at the mango coloured shore. I felt the cool water splash about my ankles and could hear the vast, peachy horizon calling me. Hope filled and surrounded me like a rock pool at high tide. I felt happy for the first time in months. I was just about to hop into the boat when a rough hand caught a firm grip on my shoulder.

“Gemi!” it was Aunty Tirta

“What are you doing?” she sounded annoyed but not shocked, almost like she had expected this to happen. I considered lying but decided to tell her the truth.

“I’m gonna go find Mum,” I sighed feeling even less confident than I sounded.

“Gemi, I know that it’s hard but you know she’s not with us. She passed baby, remember?” She doesn’t let me answer as she pulls me into a hug. My tears trickle down her strong, sun-bleached arms and onto the blue fabric of her skirt. The brief moment of hope, whisked away with the wind.

It was then that I knew she was truly gone, kind of like a wave; here one minute and gone the next. I had convinced myself that it was a dream, that she had just gone away for a while and that sooner or later she would come back or I would find her. You tend to do that when people die, pretend it never happened. You just block out the pain until it gets so intense that the dam breaks and it all comes flooding back to you.

No matter how many times I cried into Aunt Tirta’s shoulder or set out on a borrowed fishing boat, hoping that the ocean would somehow give me Mum, deep inside I knew I would never see her again. She was lost to the town, to the people of our island. Lost to Sari and Aunty Tirta. But not lost to me. To me she would live on forever in my heart and mind, singing with the children, smiling at the stars and dancing in the sea.