Come Away to the Water

by Celia Daniels

The ocean takes my pier first. I bring my transistor radio out to the front porch and watch the waves go to work, watery digits pulling at the rotting wood. The metal supports take longer to give, but even they can’t last forever. The ocean makes a meal out of dirt and grass and retainer wall; it tugs at the sides of my crab boat. I lean back, palms flat against the porch’s wood. My neck hurts. My daughter hasn’t called; she’s supposed to surface from the deep waters on Thursdays to remind me to take my pain meds and to tell me about her work. She’s a hypothetical kind of girl, the kind that called me crying when the Larsen C ice shelf broke from the Arctic (she swam beside the wreckage, gills a-fluttering). She told me I was gonna drown. 

The water’s weaving through my yard now. It’s dripping over the sides of my boat. My back cracks when I rise, moving back inside to prop open the freezer door. Last year’s snow crab is almost gone (and it’s extinct now, Chionoecetes opilio; my daughter cried about that one, too). I take what’s left of it with me back outside. I let the cold waft out of the open freezer. The water’s made it halfway to the porch in a heartbeat. I sit down and spoon crab into my mouth with my fingers as it comes. Two-thirds of the way through the remains of the dead, the water’s at my toes. 

My crabbing boat is keeling. I can see algae creeping along its edges. Its all-pupil eyes stare at me. 

I’ve got crab stuck beneath my fingernails. 

There’s frost creeping out my front door, drawn by condensation. The early morning DJ on the radio reports the news with a young man’s fearless gibe: Water, water, everywhere. Fishermen with fishes eyes. 

The water pools at my ankles. 

I run out of crab. 

I squint into the sunrise and brush blinking algae away from my toes. There are sails in the distance—schooners, crabbers, friends from high school. I live in a small town. I can hear them singing over the static of the radio. Noisy bunch. Laughing, splashing, sailing—the sun threatening to eat them whole. 

My boat is sinking. The water’s turning brown. The DJ says something about gilled girls, chilled girls—bodies found frozen on the sea shore, or what qualifies as this moment’s shore. 

I stand. The water pulls the crab slick off my hands. The boat keys are ready on their hook by the door. I leave behind my shoes, my crab traps. I pull my phone off its cradle, let it smack against the wall. 

It’s cold, wading into the water. Seaweed reaches up, about waist high. It caresses me, wraps around my wrists, threatens to let me drown. I pick it off, but it’s thick, meaty stuff. I’m covered by the time I reach my boat. 

It takes four tries to get the engine going, but my girl, she comes around. Her sides are green with algae, wide-eyed, hungry mouths opening. She loathes to point her bow sunward, but we manage, my tongue shriveling, my bare feet sore and greening. My radio sputters snow. In the distance, I can hear mermaids singing. 

This drowning world is a good world, better suited to fill in all of the man-made holes. My daughter thinks so, anyway. The rest of us? We’ll sail on, become fishermen and boats to be swallowed up by the endless current of it all.

Celia Daniels is pursuing a Master’s in Literature at the University of Toledo. She’s currently experimenting with the science fiction subgenre, solarpunk, and has had work published in Road Maps and Life Rafts, Magic Jar, Timeless Tales, Entropy, Claudius Speaks, and others. 
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