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Happy National (U.S.) Poetry Month!
Here’s a few samples of the goods:
I’ll be at the Made Market, composing one-of-a-kind love poems at your request.
In other news, I took a longer-than-typical winter break from Devious Bloggery. Mostly because last year’s Waterwood project wore me out but also because sometimes you just need to take a longer-than-typical break.
I want to remind any of you that haven’t yet to sign up for my monthly newsletter at https://tinyletter.com/ballsauce. If you enjoy this blog, you’ll enjoy the newsletter, too.
How are you? How’s your family? Are you staying strong in spite of the true retardation of American government? Are you watching your breath? Are you watching your neighbor’s breath? Has your neighbor stopped breathing? Shouldn’t you do something? Call someone? Put some clothes on first. You’ll likely be questioned.
Adam continued to swim backward, starting at the vast expanse of Ocean before him. Ramata’s head popped up above the surface of the water, startling him. Ocean flowed in and out his ears and nostrils, mouth and throat. Adam choked on fresh gulps of crisp air and spat out gooey blood and salty water. He heard the sounds of his own tortured gasps inside of his head and then Ramata’s voice came to him:
“Adam, come home, please come home. There is a world here and your time above the water is long past. Sesre had to leave the water behind, Adam. She’d changed forever. Change is neither bad nor good, Adam, it just is.”
Adam was now above the water, staring up at the sky while the sun beamed down upon him. It killed him to breathe, but he chose to keep at it, tears in his eyes, one painful, labored inhalation at a time, for just a while longer, long enough to whisper, “Goodbye, Mom and Dad.”
Before taking one final, painful breath of the salt-tinged air, Adam turned back to the islands. He lowered his mouth into the water to ease his hurting lungs, but left his eyes above the water. As he scanned the island chain, he thought he saw something – something gray and wispy rising high to the very sky above. A column of smoke! Impossible.
The noonday sun filtered down through the surface onto Adam’s back. He relished the familiar taste of Ocean; a taste that reminded him of impossible things, of hope and change. The taste of Ocean reminded Adam of life. The column of smoke reminded him of life yet still to live.
END BOOK ONE
Well, constant readers, that’s the end of the first book in The Waterwood Cycle.
Thanks for accompanying Adam, Spot, and Ramata throughout the year while I delivered the book. I hope to write the second sometime this year (but can’t say that I’ll present it in this same way). At any rate, I appreciate any time you took out of your day to read this site.
Have a happy New Year and, don’t forget, my latest book is available for purchase here.
What’s wrong? May I help?” Ramata asked.
“No, the suit isn’t coming off. Let’s swim closer to shore,” Adam said. He swam to where the water lapped up against the mountainside. “I’ll take the suit off later. For now, get behind me and squeeze my chest with both of your arms. You’ll have to squeeze fast and tight to force the breather out of my throat.”
“I’m going to miss you.” At the water-folk’s words, Adam turned from the mountaintops toward Ramata. “Adam, I’ll try to get other Tiskaloons to come help. We’re free now. We can move through Ocean again.”
Adam turned back around and rested his knees on the gentle, rocky slope. The top of his head lightly touched the surface of the water. “NOW!” He took a deep breath and Ramata wrapped their arms around him.
“Don’t forget where you’ve been, Adam. From where you’ve come.” Ramata squeezed quickly and with great force. Nothing happened.
“AGAIN!” Adam yelled.
“Why won’t you choose to remember Sesre?” Ramata asked and squeezed once more. Still nothing.
“AGAIN!” Adam yelled and flecks of blood sprayed into the water. Ramata did squeeze again and, afterwards, a steady stream of blood began to flow from Adam’s mouth. Adam swam backward to the shore, coughing and choking.
“I’m killing you, Adam!” Ramata cried.
Adam swam backward, struggling to break the water’s surface. Every exhalation brought bright blood along with it. He pulled his body halfway out of the water. In front of Adam loomed the vast spread of water that the planet had become. Behind him stood massive islands of seemingly barren rock, with nooks and crags that could both deter and shelter an inhabitant. Behind him waited the unknown.
Adam and Ramata broke the water’s surface near one of the many mountaintops that poked through. Above the water line, the string of mountaintops turned into a long, island chain, exposed like the humps of a gigantic sea serpent. Dry land. Adam stared in amazement but not for long. He had to get back under the water to breathe.
Ramata also dropped under. “So, that’s dry land, huh?”
“There isn’t much there.”
“What? Those islands are huge.”
“There isn’t much on them is what I meant. What will you eat and drink?”
Adam hadn’t given any thought to that. He broke the surface again and looked at the islands. Ramata was absolutely right. There wasn’t much on the islands at all. Some plants grew near shore, but they seemed like water plants – they wouldn’t last long outside in the air. He didn’t know if he could survive on lumps of barren rock.
Back under the water Adam breathed deeply. Cool, wet oxygen. “You’re right. There isn’t much there. But someday, maybe. That’s my home, Ramata.”
“What makes it home, Adam?”
“What do you mean? I’m a human. I belong on land.”
“If you insist, but remember Sesre’s story. I can help you with food while you’re up there, Adam, but remember Sesre’s story. She knew home is where you make it.”
“I’ve come too far to give up now, Ramata.”
“You’re giving up nothing! Look there! Barren rock! That’s your dry land! That’s what drove you to open the Drain!”
Adam paused. Again he knew Ramata was right. His own conscience told him, “That’s what took away Spot.”
Adam remained steadfast. “I’ve got to try.”
Ramata huffed and kicked. “Fool!”
“Please, help me,” Adam begged. He swam closer to the base of the island. A small shelf of sloping rock extended off from the side of the mountain and formed a hard, flat area – a beach of sorts. Adam swam to a shallow point in the water and rolled over on his back.
To get out of the water, he first had to take off his swim suit. But the suit stuck tight, as though it were glued to his legs. The harder he tugged, the tighter the suit gripped.
Goodbye, Spot,” he said. “I’m leaving now.” Then he began to cry. “I’m so, so sorry.” Adam swam up and away from the Drain, towards Ramata. “I’m ready,” he said.
The first thing Ramata did was to immediately take Adam to the surface. He hadn’t been to the surface since he’d accepted the waterwood box’s gifts. He couldn’t even guess how long ago that had been – a week, a month? When they broke the surface of the water the bright sunlight hurt his eyes. Neither could he breathe the air. He gasped and choked and ducked back underwater. Ramata came back under shortly thereafter. “Nothing yet. Let’s move it.”
They did this several times, rising to the surface, not finding whatever it was Ramata was looking for then going back under to swim many more miles. While swimming, they stayed rather close to the surface and Adam’s eyes started to adjust to the light that shone into the water. This was fortunate because the next time they popped out of the water, Ramata said, “There,” and pointed off into the distance.
Adam followed the water-folk’s finger and thought he saw it: a lump of land, hazy in the distance. Was it an illusion? His breath quickened and he choked. Adam went under the water and watched Ramata balancing above, half in and half out of the air.
“Is that what I think it is?” Adam asked when Ramata finally came back under.
“I think so. I hope so, for the sake of all that you’ve done. Those are the last of the high points I know of near here.”
“How much dry land do you think there will be?”
Ramata shrugged. “Let’s go see!” And so they swam to see.
As the pair drew nearer to the mountains, Adam slowed to appreciate their magnitude. He wondered which mountains they were before: the Himalayas, the Rockies, or the Andes. He could no longer tell, however, not with Ocean all around.