As it appears in The Outpost Magazine, Issue 5, The Possibility of Warming Your Heart.

Slow red heat was beaming down from the sky, but everything else was blue. The sky, cloudless and infinite, was as blue as the water, which rippled like a sequined dress, white flashes dancing in the horizon.

I dropped my bag down between a group of teenagers blasting pop music, and a family with kids screeching as they chased each other with jellyfish and shovels.

Stretching, I made my way to the sea, my feet scattering the sand. When I reached the lapping edge of the water, gooseflesh erupted up my legs. Shivering, I took a deep breath, and then threw my body unceremoniously into the water. Instantaneously, the shrieks and the colors and the heat all disappeared, as if I had put on a rubber suit, and all that was true was the coolness, the weightlessness and the blue.

I pulled myself up and gulped in the air and the noise. Blinking against the sun and the salt, I walked deeper into the gulf, and farther from the shore. Soon, my feet couldn’t touch the sand anymore, and I kept going, away from the land, away from the noise, away from all the people.

It didn’t take long for me to find myself alone. I had passed the rocks that embraced the beach, and was now floating in an endless stretch of blue, glittering under a brighter endless stretch of blue. I kept swimming, but began to do so with my eyes open underwater; I found it painless. Light danced on the surface, but speared through underneath, in a crusade to light the dark and solid depths. My eyes followed its path through a school of jellyfish that billowed, pink and luminous, towards an unknown destination, all the way down to the seabed, where a cluster of plants sat, dancing milky tentacles winding and twirling around and between each other.

I propelled myself down towards the plants, arms outstretched and fingers spread, until my right hand brushed through the soft limbs.

The shock was immediate, but not unpleasant. Warmth spread from my fingertip up to my scalp and down to my toes, and the goosebumps I felt this time were like a calm tingling, as if all along it was for this touch I was longing. I closed my eyes, breathed out through my nose, and let myself float upwards.

When I broke the surface, I breathed in, but felt no air fill my lungs. My flew open, and I coughed, grabbing at my throat. What I found, however, was not the smooth curve of my neck, but rough and wide slits, stretching on both sides up to my ears. I forced my head under the and I found myself instinctively inhaling. I felt the water move into me, felt my inside cool and my head calm. I opened my eyes, and the blue was so bright, so clear. I looked down, and instead of skin, I saw scales. Instead of feet, there was a tail and I stretched my fingers in front of my eyes, and found milky webs stretching between them.

I swam.

I swam deep and far. I went back to the plants, ran my fingers through their dancing limbs, reveling in the curious warmth that spread through me at their touch.

I swam deeper, down a dark opening in the rock floor of the sea, but the darkness wasn’t solid anymore; my pale hands seemed to illuminate it as they cut through, and I saw not blackness or void, but colors, so many colors. I saw green in the rock and pink in the plants; I touched scales like feathers and skin like stone and breathed salt like second nature.

I swam up towards the light. Breaking the surface, I felt the sun seep into my skin, as the water clung to my skin like dew. I went back under, and the water washed my lungs while the light broke into a billion pieces against my scales.

I swam.

I swam, even as the sun turned from white to an orange so bright the water forgot to be blue. And when the sun came down asking to swim with me and set the sea on fire, I turned back to the shore.

The blue never-ending horizon was slowly fragmenting; black rocks rose, doorkeepers of the land, as the water foamed against them, and soon after I could see the sand and I could hear the cacophony that was people.

When I found that I could reach the seabed with my head afloat, I stood up. The rush of air that hit my wet body caused my skin to shrink, and I breathed in, salty air and humid breeze. I walked up and out of the water, and when my feet–scarlet toed and pink skinned– left the water, I turned around to see the remaining sliver of orange sun eclipsed behind a large blue kite, and the fire was doused, for just a moment, before the sun sunk under the cool blue surface, still fiery and still orange.