She walks purposefully over the beach, sand between her toes, the breeze playing in her hair, goosebumps rising on her arms. She stops at the water’s edge and the waves lap lazily over her feet. Somewhere between the skin of her ankle and the crackling synapses in her brain, the message that the water is freezing is lost. She looks out and breathes in. The world remains still, and she breathes out.
She walks into the waves, and the sound the water makes as it swirls around her ankles and her legs and then her knees and thighs and hips until she’s submerged up to her waist is so much more pronounced than the languid rolling of the waves onto the shore. She stops and once again the world is quiet except for the sound of the resting ocean. She listens for maybe a second, and then she dives.
Her face pushes through freezing water, her eyes shut tight against it, her legs kicking, propelling her deeper and further way from the shore, from safety, from what she knows. It’s darker than dark in that there is nothing to see, and sound seems to operate differently from where she is beneath the surface of the sea.
“I am gone,” she thinks, “This is how it is to be nothing.”
Her legs and arms stop moving, and she lets herself hang there, floating in the darkness, her body finding it’s place in the stillness of the ocean.
Her lungs begin to throb. It seems time is meaningless here, as if the world beneath the waves is a different reality, one totally removed from the one she stood in when she was on the beach. But she is human, she needs to breathe.
She is aware simultaneously that floating here, this nothingness, is the closest to perfect that she has ever felt, but that she can never be equal to the ocean. If she stays there it will take her mind, slowly but surely, and the burning in her lungs is just the beginning of that. She realizes that the ocean is as deadly as it is beautiful.
“At least,” she thinks, “I will not cry.”
She is unaware of where the conscious darkness ends and the unconscious darkness begins, but she slips, and she floats, and it is peaceful.