by ELLA GREEN (New Zealand)
Issue 1.3 December 2019
I don't remember the first time I saw the ocean. How strange it must have looked to my young eyes. How vast.
When I think of the ocean, I smell salt and sunscreen and sweat. I feel the cold wash of the waves, hear the thundering roar of whitewater. I taste salt and grit and grime.
I remember the sun, the heat, the cold, the squealing and tumbling and running. The ugly hats mum always pulled down too far over my forehead. The itching of sand in my hair and ears and eyes, the black crescents it formed underneath my fingernails. I remember the sharp bite of the sandflies, dad’s hands on my ankles as he pushed my board into an oncoming wave. The feeling of wet sand sloshing and sucking between my toes.
The ocean was my childhood, my home; a place I could stay for hours without getting bored. I hardly go to the beach anymore, only visiting to walk and think upon its vast shores. Some days, the water is clear and calm, reflecting the cloudless blue of the sky. Other days it is grey and brooding, the sky and sea swirling with anger and promise. I like these days best, where the sky overhead rumbles like a waking beast. I am reminded that everything has it’s time; the days of my childhood have come and gone. And now, standing here in their wake, I find myself thinking of the spaces they left behind.
My future is quantified. My life is only made of days and stolen moments I choose to spend staring out at the neverending sky. I do not want to live forever, but the unknown that awaits beyond the fragile heartbeat of life is frightening.
I try to think of death as an ocean; uncharted and unknown, but vast, and maybe even beautiful in the way only a storm could be. Standing here, amid this desert of salt and sea and sand, I am reminded that this life is a gift. I know I don't remember the first time I saw the ocean—but I hope to remember my last.
For most of her life, Ella Green, 17, has lived in a town on the edge of the ocean, a place famed for its wild surf and rugged beauty. This setting, along with the existential crisis which comes with finishing high school, is what has inspired this piece. Aside from writing, she also enjoys singing, painting and cuddling her two (very fat) cats. She is moving across the country to study psychology at University in 2020