The Waterwood Box, 56

Catch up!

“Sesre’s legs grew stronger the more they used them. Soon, they no longer needed hands and arms for support. Sesre could walk upright. Not very well, but Sesre could walk. And walk Sesre did. Every day they walked a little further inland than they had the day before. One day, they didn’t show for their usual visit with the water-folk and the water-folk began to worry. First one day, then many more went by with no visits from Sesre.”

“Eventually, Sesre returned to the water-folk full of fascinating stories about the inland. Sesre talked of seaweed that grew hard as a rock and of creatures with four legs and animals that swam through the air as though they were dartfish. Sesre told the water-folk, ‘I must return inland, for my heart and mind are no longer bound to Ocean. I shall not return again to meet you on this beach.'”

“This upset the water-folk and, after some debate, they decided to accompany Sesre. Ten of the water-folk attempted to rid themselves of scales and tails. Six succeeded. Two died while trying, and the other two couldn’t remove their scales and tails no matter what they tried. These two were charged with going back to Tiskaloo to tell the others Sesre’s story.”

“With Sesre’s help, the six that made it out of the water learned to move. The seven walked inland and never returned, as Sesre vowed, to that particular piece of beach.”

“But that doesn’t explain humans,” Adam protested. “Just because the water-folk got rid of their water-parts doesn’t mean that their babies wouldn’t have them.”

“Perhaps the parents removed the babies’ tails at birth? I don’t know either. But, that’s the story as we are told it. And now that I see you here before me, Adam, I believe the story so much more.”

The Waterwood Box, 56

The Waterwood Box, 55

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“Yes, well, legs of a sort. Sesre had indeed pulled off their own scales and tail and found something like legs underneath. Unfortunately, Sesre didn’t see this as an advantage in their new situation. Instead, they sat on the shore lamenting the loss of their gorgeous water-parts. Sesre wailed and begged for Erato to take mercy upon them. The other water-folk heard Sesre’s cries and offered small consolations. They moved the rock which still pinned Sesre’s scales and tail and brought them to Sesre upon the beach.”

“’Here, you can put them back on and rejoin us,’” the water-folk suggested. Sesre tried and failed. They felt their life was now over. They grew hungry and began to crawl along the shoreline in search of shellfish to eat. They came upon a crab and just before picking it up to eat it, paused. Sesre had seen countless crabs during their lifetime but had never before paid close attention to how they lived their lives. Now, however, they interested Sesre very much. The crab, you see, uses its legs to move in a scuttling motion over the sand. So Sesre imitated the crab and pushed herself up on hands and legs. At first, they couldn’t move like the crab, but with practice they became able to move easily and quickly through the shallow waters.”

“Like the crab, Sesre scuttled up and down the beach. They found shellfish among the pebbles and caught small fish to stay alive. By day, they combed the beach and at night they crawled completely out of the shallow water to curl up in a small cove uncovered by the receding tide. The water-folk kept Sesre company as best they could. For those that could remain out of the water for a small time, Sesre offered shellfish and they in turn brought seaweed to adorn Sesre’s hair and body.”

The Waterwood Box, 55

The Waterwood Box, 54

Catch up!

“The water-folk in charge of Ocean at landrise did their jobs as best they could. Then, one day, a most curious event occurred. A small group of water-folk decided to get as close to landrise as possible without drowning in air.”

“Day after day, they would come up out of the water, force themselves to struggle to breathe, then fall back to Ocean for a refresh. Over time, their experiment, in a way,  acclimated them to breathing air instead of water. One particularly curious day, a water-folk named Sesre was exploring near landrise and got their tail stuck under a large rock. They were halfway out of the water already while the tide kept getting further and further out. Sesre grew desperate, thinking that their end was near. They struggled frantically to get free when, in one curious instant, they pulled so hard that they slipped right out of their scales. Those scales stayed pinned under the rock while Sesre lay on a soft, sandy beach, barely able to breathe.”

“Sesre pulled their way up the beach, taking in labored breaths, trying not to panic. When they did this they found they could breathe, if only barely. Sesre clawed and crawled. They were exhausted. When finally they dared to look down at what had become of their bottom half, they cringed in fear. They saw a bloody, runny, mass of flesh. They splashed salty, sea water on their wounds. The water washed and helped to heal them. Sesre saw that where scales and tail once were, two, thin pieces of muscle-covered bone remained. Two, separate limbs, mind you.”

“Legs…” Adam whispered.

The Waterwood Box, 54

The Waterwood Box, 53

Catch up!

Uncertain of where Frear’s question was headed, Adam replied, “Well, to learn, we go to a building and sit in a room where our teachers, our elders, tell us what they know.”

“And what do they tell you of your origins? Do you know from whence you came?”

“Sure, sure I do. Humans evolved from monkeys.” At this, Frear erupted in bubbles of laughter. Even Spot chuckled a bit. “What? What is it?” Adam asked. “Don’t tell me that’s not true. It’s evolution.” Frear continued to laugh and Adam found that he liked Frear much more when the water-folk was laughing. He just wished Frear wasn’t laughing at him.

“Oh no, child. I can’t contest evolution. That’s a fool’s game. But humans…from monkeys? I know not what a monkey is but unless that’s your word for water-folk…” Simply talking about such things brought fresh bubbles of laughter from Frear and a guarded chuckle from Spot.

“No, no, monkeys are a small, furry animal. They’re our closest ancestors. What else would we evolve from?”

Pride inflated Frear’s chest, which the water-folk then pounded with a closed fist. “Jur-Tiska. That’s what else.”

Now it was Adam’s turn to laugh. That’s why Frear had asked if monkey meant water-folk. Adam laughed, but stopped when Frear put a hand on the boy’s shoulder and firmly squeezed. In a voice both soothing and dignified, Frear spoke:

“This is not a jest, Adam. Confused myths lead to confused minds. Long before humans, in the early days of life, water-folk populated Ocean in great numbers. In every trench and trough, in every rift and rise, we prospered, tended, and toiled. Deep water, shallow water, warm water or cold made no difference to us. We were caretakers chosen by the webbed hand of Erato itself, and we were obliged. That, however, was Ocean before today, before landrise.

 

The Waterwood Box, 53