What you know is this: From the time you were a child you have always been drawn to the water. Ten thousand lakes, ten thousand pieces of your soul. On the day the ocean entered your life, you found it was a reunion with an old friend, one who has always been near to your heart. Many a night you spent on the shore, watching the tide breathe beneath the watchful eye of the moon. But this peace could not last forever, and the time came to leave this piece of yourself behind while grass and trees and clay came to surround you.
Then you see it: she has always been the ocean to you.
The night you sat perched on a boat anchored somewhere between melancholy and Canada, your young heart finding comfort only in her wide, round gaze. The night you laid your body to rest on the cool sand, you begged your sorrow to drown in the waves that beat the shore while your tears reflected a sliver of her soul. The night you drove for endless miles seeking her solace only to realize she was grieving as deeply as you, showing you the darkest sides of herself.
You didn’t realize you were confessing, admission after admission offered up toward her light. You tell her how when you were overwhelmed you used to smoke, if only to have something to do with your hands. How sometimes letters written in a certain hand make you feel like you’re drowning, or maybe like a part of you is dying. How a packet of hot chocolate stirred in your coffee tastes of agony, doubly so if a game of solitaire is involved. How sometimes when you see power poles and lines strung between them, you feel as if your heart has been torn clean in two.
All she has to say is this: Look at the scars that mar me. You look, and you look, and you look. Her scars are deep, and though they tarnish her face, her stubborn beauty shines through. You see a map charted of every moment you’ve spent with her; for every night you have come to her seeking peace, she has taken that shard of your troubled self. Each admission of your heart she gathers, carrying them away from you, leaving you as smooth as the shore of the sea when the tide has gone out.
There’s a hole in your heart where the moon should be. Three days of rain and clouds hiding her away and your heart sinks low. But today, at last, she calls to you. Before you catch sight of her you feel her soul pulling on yours. Look at me, she breathes. Come to me. So you do. You walk and walk and walk until all that you see is her. You fall to the earth like the tide crashing to the shore, and it is a homecoming. Tonight she is radiant, her silver beauty pouring from the sky. You are awash in memory.
Katherine Harnisch is an emerging writer who resides in northern Virginia. When she’s not reading or writing, her hobbies include baking and ice skating. Her work has appeared in memoryhouse magazine and Humana Obscura. You can find her on Instagram @katherineharnisch.