The water is warm and clear and inviting.
The waves gentle push at me, making it a bit difficult to wade through the water. But the fight is worth it. The water calls to me, beckoning me to come for a swim. I gently walk through the shallow thigh high water as it climbs, up to my waist, up to my chest. Then I step on something and a sharp pain shoots up my foot.
“Ouch” I cry out and grab my foot unsteadily as the waves continue to push and pull. I look down knowing I can not and will not see what I stepped on. The pain subsides and I tentatively put my foot back down, feeling around with my toes for what I stepped on. My foot touch something slimy and I recoil. I take a wide step to my left and my foot hits something hard. Something brushes my right thigh and I recoil some more. I fight the urge to turn and head back to shore. I take a deep breath and stick my head under water, trying to see through the hazy gloom of the sea and see no further than right in front of me.
I am now balancing on one foot because I’m scared of what the next foot will find. I decide to enjoy the gently rocking motion of the sea as I float on my back, swaying back and forth, watching the clouds in the sky, not hearing anything but the waves crashing about me. I forget where I am for a while. Then I remember that I am now far from shore.
The water is no longer a clear tranquil blue. It has the deep blue of the ocean, along with its rough waves. I tread the water as I turn to see how far I am from the shore. I am pretty far, but I can swim it back without concern. But a strange sense of paranoia crashes over me as I realise I can no longer see or touch the floor.
That’s ok I think trying to calm my nerves. I start towards the shore. Head down, stroke one, then two, then gasp for air, repeat. Then I see something dark pass under me. Something reminiscent of a sting ray, but I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I am in their domain now and I need to leave. I swim faster, harder, kicking and stroking, gasping for air. I see the floor now covered with moss and coral, and rocks, and it is wider than I thought. I could touch it if I want but I chose to swim past it. There is no resting place here, nowhere to put my foot down, so I do not stop swimming until I see clear, white sand on the sea floor.
When I get close enough to see the floor through the water, I stand taking a deep breath. I made it, finally. I feel like I just swam from the island I was stranded on.
As I climb up on shore, I realise now that my right foot feels clumsy and when I look down at it, I see it is twice the size of my left. It is red and throbbing now that I am out of water. And the place where that thing grazed my right thigh is now red and raw and wailed in streaks. I have been mauled, by the creatures of the sea. But what can I expect, I ventured into their territory.
(This is a story, not true . . . but it could very well be.)
It doesn’t help when I read articles such as this about Why no one should mess with the ocean. It is a serious thing, the ocean. And I am not afraid to admit, that as an island girl, I am afraid of the ocean floor and the inhabitants thereof. I have Thalassophobia – an intense and persistent fear of the sea/ocean.
They are out to kill me! o.O