This is the Sea

When you’re born, you’re given a boat to live in and arms and legs to swim with. You can do what you like with them. “But stay in the backwaters,” people warn, “and moor up every night, somewhere safe. Don’t work too hard. Don’t take chances and don’t leave shore when it’s raining. And whatever you do, don’t float downriver and be swept out to sea because you’ll get lost and you’ll drown. And there are sharks.”

Okay fine. But what if I’m lost here, bobbing about in the backwaters? What if I’m drowning in the shallows? What if I want to trade my row boat for an ocean liner? What is the point of swimming if I never get anywhere? River weed wraps around my legs, silent, slimy, predictable. The other play-safes and I watch each other suspiciously across the water, all tethered and scared and sore as the fish nibble on our toes and the river flows by but only ever in one direction, and all I want to do is up-anchor and let the current carry me down to the sea.