The sun was tangled on the surface of the water, white strands floating precariously with all the delicacy of the seaweed that lay 100 feet below. It swayed side to side unnoticed, the cool currents of the ocean guiding the movements of its trance. A small whitish sphere, somehow blurrier than the rest of the sea, clung to a frond. It had a slight shine nestled within it reminiscent of light.
Nighttime now, or twilight, though the difference won’t be measured at such great depth. The egg split and faded to join the water. The shine emerged in the form of a fish.
Sharp vibration shook the spine as the fish ventured out of the weeds; a whale cried out miles away in a surging baritone. The clear blue thickened with the noise. The fish remembered the quiet of the egg: no sights, no sounds. The memory was washed clean by a new current, so strong it forced the fish to the rough sea-bed. Tiny grains of sand and rock pushed themselves under the scales, scraped the newness off to float away and fall back to the bottom. The fish felt nothing but an intense feeling of the blue and it swam back upwards, perhaps more slowly than before.
The water hung deep and black. The fish swam on and on, feeling its fins get colder and swimming harder in reply. It was a familiar cold to the fish and all the water’s inhabitants like the slick feeling of seaweed or the taste of the salt— almost bloodlike in its intensity. The cold split into thick sinewy currents like the one that the fish first felt. They flexed and relaxed; the cold was enormously strong. The color too had different hues, blending from soft ebony to the ancient gray-blue of deteriorating statues looking up towards their sky. The fish felt this all and more as it drifted upwards towards the surface trying to shake the blue-black off its scales and the cold pushed back.
Twilight came and went, as did nightfall and sunrise. It was the sunset time when light is gold but falls like snow upon the water. The fish was feet away from the surface, wondering why the sea was so deep as it saw the reflection of all the water it had covered upon the belly of a wave. It saw itself too, just a flash of quick-fire metal wish to be free of the water and into the sun. Arching its spine, the fish hurled its scraped body away from the cold.
The sun hissed over the fish, kissed its scales and singed its eyes as it flew upwards,
and the heat built and built turning the gold fins to black and then to dazzling gold once more the sky was blue then white as spots built in the round eyes more light than they had ever known the pain was intense then forgotten unbearable as the droplets sprayed up and freshly new as they sprayed down reflecting a thousand tiny suns a thousand tiny fish one huge sky the face of this deceitful sea was the opposite of the face beneath the waves pure white in reflection and vast so vast it blended with the sky arcing above the fish and reflected below it was a bubble perfectly spherical in its greatness lay in the infinity of such a blue circle it was white now and began to blur violent then still as the fish, breathless, did pirouettes in the sunrise encased in the blinding ecstasy of the unshackled prisoner.
The sun sank as the fish sank too, swallowed by the ocean, so black beneath. The fish’s pupils flew open from the shock of the old cold surrounding. It flung itself upwards, but still felt the dull cold, saw nothing but the dark sea below and the dark sky around, too deep. It fell back into gravity’s grasp. Once more, in memory of the sun, it flung its slick body up plummeted down, flung up again, and again and again. It fell a thousand times, and each fall was deeper than the last, until it could feel nothing but black and see nothing but the tip of a dying ember in the west as it sank gasping back down, down, down into that blueblack sea, so deep.
Athena Washburn, Age 16, Grade 11, The Dalton School, Gold Key