The water lapped over me, it washed through my mind consuming all of my thoughts, it turned the traces of me into something else. The tide first appeared many days previously, it appeared slowly, drawing towards me with uncertainty. I wondered if the water, the wetness would ever dampen my soles, the vision of the forthcoming was consuming, it altered my state of being. Others, family, friends, viewed the tide as frightening, something foreign, something to be ignored to be pushed aside. ‘Just keep busy’, my mother would often say, she closed her eyes to the enviable tide, and they all surely felt there feet sinking into the mush beneath their toes. They all felt it but chose to pretend; pretending was of course ‘easier’. I was different, I felt the water, I welcomed the forthcoming. Watching was not a trait I associated with, I did not observe, for the tide was a friend; it was something that I knew better than most. It was a disturbing realisation that I associated the tide as a comforting dampness, a thing inside of me that I could trust more than the external world.

It was not as if I awoke to be swimming, it was as if I was born into the water, into the tide. It ‘runs’ in families the doctor explained as if it was all ‘medical’, it was all very much explained by a ‘ genetic predisposition’. This was written on paper, filed in some stupid cabinet and I was expected to nod in agreement, understanding the impossible outcome of an existence devoted to swimming. Days seemed to drift by as I became engulfed by the tide, I found the dampness was like a warm dripping towel wrapped around me most likely compared to a bandage itching against my skin. The towel didn’t seem to efficiently dry me, it was useless at its proposed duty of drying, it kept me soggy and segregated from the dry and ‘sunny disposition’ of my peers.

My condition did not stop people attempting to reach out, some even joining me, swimming along side in the tide. People often used phrases like ‘I used to feel the same’ or that they ‘understood’, I appreciated their attempts to retrieve me from the tide. Although I strongly doubted that they understood or had been captured in the same tide as me and were suddenly a success story of the dry land.  Rarely on occasions the towel would slip, did my skin feel a slight sting of unfamiliarity in the presence of warmth? Dryness? The dehydration was exhilarating; I was suffocating in the warmth of the people around me. Suddenly feeling connected to the exterior world, my ability to inhabit this place, an alien landscape, a place suffering a drought. At these times I did still long for the tide to take me. The water made me soggy, but the soggy-ness was familiar and easier than feeling parched. I was like an amphibian who was excited to join the world of living, the ‘dry-lands’ but always remained attached to my dwelling under the sea. I longed for both. People did not understand why I always returned to the tide, why after a period of bingeing on warmth I slunk back.

‘Take these pills’, the doctor told me, handing me a script to collect. To me the piece of paper seemed absurdly abstract. So this was my ticket to life? My pass into a world of normalcy? Normalcy? I contemplated was a place I had never been, it was a place I would rather not risk visiting. Even so I collected the box of tablets from the pharmacy, staring vacantly at the box for hours trying to decipher the meaning of the instructions, something similar to ‘do not consume alcohol’. So this is what the dry land feels like I mused, a box of pills, an inanimate object telling me how to live my life. This world is sick I concluded. Everyone insisted I take these pills, asking me daily if I had ‘noticed any difference’. When I answered , ‘not really’, mainly because I was not taking them, a vital point I forgot to mention. In fairness I had attempted to take them, I popped a pill a day for 3 days straight. It made my insides feel revolted by these foreign bodies attempting to trespass. Physically I was nauseated; everything inside of me was trying to reject this therapy. Mentally I was dull, uninspired, flat, a vast nothingness coated my insides and exterior. Friends, family, the doctor would comment that, ‘it takes a few weeks’. A few weeks to what? I wondered, a few weeks to become a de-saturated version of you? I had seen it in others before. Friends who swam the tide, predisposed to a life of wetness consumed these normal; making pills.  Were they ‘normal’ now? If normal meant living without the tide, without the ebb and flow.

Then, no thanks I prefer swimming.


-Beth Eason

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