Return to the Sea

I had come down to the sea. Why I no longer remember. What I do remember is that I swam out away from the shore, far enough out that the sea stretched to the horizon and the swells blocked the shore from my sight so that I was alone in the blue-green waters.

I dove beneath the surface and saw that there was the surface of another sea beneath me, waves crashing on the rocks of an underwater shoreline. I somehow perceived that this was the surface of an ancient sea from long ago and that I was above its ancient shoreline. I was swimming through the air above that ancient sea and this air was different from the air above me. It was newer air, air that had not been breathed by countless generations of creatures and so still retained all of its vitality. Though I was beneath my own sea I could breath the air of this ancient time and so swam out to explore this ancient sea.

For a long time I swam along this shoreline, watching the waves break against the rocks of a strangely barren land. Then, I reached a point where I could see objects far out to sea and I, desiring a change from the endless rocks, breaking waves and empty beach, swam towards them to see what they were. I discovered the towers of a city, rising from the ancient sea which broke with increasing ferocity about them. The towers were of dark stone but festooned with vines and flowers which were growing over them. There were windows of dark glass but I could see no inhabitants beyond them or beyond the tightly shut doors on the many balconies and platforms or on the many walkways which connected the towers.

I swam among the towers of this city for some time before I noticed that the sea beneath me was rising, as if some ancient tide was coming in. The sea disturbed me and I swam upwards away from it as it broke with increased ferocity against the towers that were now slowly sinking beneath it.

I was above the towers when through hundreds of hidden doors a crowd of beings burst out onto the tops of all of the towers, crowding together and filling the formerly empty, flat surfaces. I perceived that I should have found the beings repellent, but to me they seemed normal and I even felt a curious connection to them.

The beings saw me and they moved in my direction, reaching their arms towards me as I swam above them. I started to swim downwards but the surface of the sea moved upwards even faster. I was afraid of the sea in the same inexplicable way that I was not afraid of the beings and I hesitated then swam back upwards again.

The ancient sea surged upwards and broke over the tops of the towers, washing away the beings who could not swim upwards and away through what was but air to them. The waves broke and they struggled and disappeared but the sea continued to rise. I swam upwards but the sea was faster than I and it soon overwhelmed me. I found myself crushed beneath the weight of two seas, unable to breath, and I struggled upwards. My vision was starting to go black when I burst through the surface of my own sea and took a deep, unsatisfying breath of the old, worn-out air above it.

The next I was aware of was lying on the beach while surrounded by a curious crowd of onlookers. They told me that I was pulled from the sea after nearly drowning, having swam outwards too far and too deeply. I asked about the beings I had seen and about the city but they told me that there was no such thing, that the lack of air to my brain must have caused me to see things. I sensed that my protests would not gain me anything and so I fell silent.

I still travel to the sea but I no longer swim out as far or as deeply. And, as I look at its silent, blue-green surface, I wonder if it too will someday rise upwards, overwhelming the towers of our cities in final silence. And I wonder what the beings of that city may have told me if I had swam towards them instead of fleeing that ancient sea in fear.

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