Just a little prose from my current blogtag challenge. thought i would post it here, until i am inspired with another topic…
Jansen Bright had always been interested in saving lives and the sea–including seafood, in that order. It didn’t surprise his mother when he joined the coast guard instead of going to college and was still the youngest man on his crew. For his youth and puppy like willingess to “go overboard” to do a job right, jan endured frequent verbal rib poking and practical jokes. Rather than going ballistic and ending up on some criminal science survey course list for “must study serial-killer psyches”, he would blow off steam crabbing in the early mornings to keep his head clear and bring in some extra money.
The bright family had always lived quite an austere existence and jan had not learned extravagant needs, the money he earned was tucked away quietly for a rainy day. The best opportunity crabbing did afford him was time to think and become quiet for a few moments each day. Not a luxury he found among his shipmatesin the guard , jan came to love the silent moments on the water, whalewatching and crabbing, as much as he loved the adrenaline rush of jumping into the drink to pull a waterlogged survivor to safety. Now reflecting on the silence around him, jan realized both the silence and the chaos in the water represented his fondest memories of love—remembering his deepest connections had come from time spent at the shore or sailing with his family. His spirit soared when he was allowed to express his inner nature while on the sea, in whichever outlet it took. In certain moments he realized when he expressed, what his girlfriends had always classed his– “chewy center” through these labors of love, he was at his most joyful.
As he looked around him at the floating sea kelp and distant reef–out of the corner of his eye, jan thought he glimpsed his father coming in his direction. Long since gone from this world, it didn’t seem possible and the image faded as quickly as it had arisen. A whisper rippled through the water reminding him of how much he worshiped his father. Never having been very close, jan had always fought to earn the approval of his dad and had chosen a path that mirrored that of this man he admired so keenly. The “ghost” of his father quickly changed into a memory—one of his very few from childhood that didn’t include the sea—watching his parents swirl about the living room to the notes of yellow submarine. Typically his father would be dressed in a crisp, clean uniform and his mother just returned from the beauty parlor with a new up-do with some sort of waltz in the background, but on that far-distant day they sensually and almost casually circled each other in grubby jeans and t-shirts after a hard weekend day of clean-up and chores; the looks passing between them obviously the secret language of love that jan sought to decipher his entire adult life.
For a moment jan wondered what part of what he was seeing was real; the dancing parents or the breaking waves? He had spent countless hours gazing out at the sea already in his lifetime; watching whales pass by with their young ushering them to safety through treacherous waters, considering the migratory patterns of the waterfowl that appeared during high season each year, and imagining himself as a part of that amazing journey. Now jan’s eyes blinked back tears—if that was possible underwater—as he realized his imaginary life had finally returned to encompass his real life. As the storm raged overhead and finally bested his youthful strength, jan let go and took the water into his lungs. With his final, saturated breaths, jan recognized his father as he beheld him approaching through the water. How fitting to see him again here, in this lyrical, underwater garden where the arm of the starfish is magically re-grown and the eight-arms of the octopus, like the powerful, weaving legs of the spider; reach out to offer another life-giving safety net. As jan sank into unconsciousness his thoughts turned to regrets of moments in his own brief life that had not yet been lived; it wasn’t until much later, sprawled out on the deck of the search and rescue boat and coughing up saltwater, that jan felt he had finally opened his spirit just enough to realize he had always had the approval of his father, and his underwater apparition had been the liminal, lifesaving moment of the recognition and embrace of that love.