Excerpt: Part of Your World
Chris blinked sleepily up at the clouds, shielding his eyes with one hand from the bright rays of the afternoon sun. He loved this; he felt like the only person in the world when he was out on the water alone. It was a warm day, with the sun beating down on him, and the only sound the gentle slap of the waves against the side of the boat.
Technically he was fishing. He had gone as far as baiting a line and dropping it over the side. The pole was propped up next to him, close enough that he could grab it if he got a bite. But no one ever questioned why he came home empty-handed, and he preferred to use his ‘fishing’ time to relax and do nothing more strenuous than keep himself out of the path of larger boats.
He loved the sea. Growing up on a small island meant it was his home as much as the rocky land, and he got restless if he didn’t get a chance to climb in his little boat a few times a week. Of course, he got on a boat every day, boarding the ferry for the mainland to get to work. But it wasn’t the same thing, no matter how fond he was of the lumbering masses that plowed their way back and forth over the narrow channel.
Chris frowned at the thought of work. His job wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what he wanted to be doing. He lolled his head back against the seat of the boat and allowed his thoughts to wander, a vivid fantasy of playing his guitar in front of a cheering crowd coming to the forefront, as always.
He heard music everywhere he went—in the rush of the sea, in the call of the birds—and all he wanted to do was to play some of that music. For someone. Anyone.
But right now he was a waiter. It wasn’t a bad job; he worked at one of the nice places downtown and made decent tips. And since he worked an evening shift, he didn’t have to haul himself out of bed at the crack of dawn like most people he knew. It gave him time to get out on the water and just drift and dream.
He would close his eyes and listen to the sounds of the water around him, and imagine that he could hear that one perfect voice, the one that would open his songs up, and make them speak to the whole world.
The water was deep and dark. Cold and biting. Tangled seaweed rose up like grasping fingers, a forest on the ocean floor where someone could get lost if he wasn’t careful.
The light was dim at this depth, filtering down from above, murky but enough to catch the shimmer of fins as a solitary fish swam by. It darted playfully between the fronds, deeper and deeper into the seaweed forest, to where the sun couldn’t reach. The fish nosed happily at the strands, sucking up the algae that clung there, and never saw the shadow that passed behind it.
Its tail flashed silver between the fronds and then it was gone.
Ren laughed to himself as he tore away at the tough scales, his razor sharp teeth piercing the thick skin with ease. The juicy flesh hit his tongue and he smiled around his mouthful, slurping meat away from the bones and tossing them aside when he was done.
The remains sank, forgotten, to the ocean floor.
Ren pushed his way out of the seaweed, his dark, tangled hair indistinguishable from the plant life around him. His pale skin gleamed a faint blue, shimmering. He peered out into the open sea, large dark eyes unblinking as he sought signs of life.
But the ocean floor was quiet. The sea floor behind him was scattered with the remains of his meals, the rotting heads of fish drawing in small schools, nibbling away at his leftovers. But nothing substantial was in sight, nothing to challenge his dominion.
He drifted out into the open, flicking his tail to free it from the grasping strands of seaweed. They clung to him, thick and slippery, and it was a minute’s work to get himself free. He turned his eyes upward, seeking movement above the water. Nothing stirred, the faint light that filtered down the only thing that met his eyes.
Sometimes Ren would see the seals that frolicked on the surface, cresting above the waves. They only came to his depth to pursue a fish, and when their eyes caught his they would turn and flee, a startled yelp bursting forth the moment their snouts met air.
Ren stayed at the bottom, merely watching their sport.
He floated on his back, his eyes moving restlessly, straining to make out something of the world above the water. He hated the seals, snarling at them whenever they came close. Why was it that they got to stay at the surface, their heads rising above the water, able to see the world beyond the sea?
Ren sank back, his skin brushing the rocky bottom. He had never been to the surface, although he liked the shallows best. He liked the light, the warmth of the water as he got closer and closer to land. He wondered what it was like for the seals up there, surrounded by that light, that warmth. He wondered what they saw when they lifted their sleek heads above the water.