Cassandra Axon – Deakin University
Jane can feel the freezing cold water lapping at her ankles, can feel it calling to her. She doesn’t move towards it though, she just stands there and wills the winter’s water to do to her what it should be doing. What it would do to any normal person. Freeze her feet to the bone; freeze them until they are numb and she can’t feel them. It doesn’t happen. Jane’s feet love the clear blue water; her whole body loves it. Her muscles itch to dive in and be surrounded in it; like the day is steaming hot and she would die without it. Her mind will not allow this though, it argues against the idea. Jane’s mind wants to run away from the water; it scares her, this feeling, this need for it, for her to be surrounded in it. Jane tries to make her legs move, begging them to run. They don’t, nothing happens. Jane just stands there and stares out at the depths of the clear blue water, stares at the calm rock and roll of the waves as her mind drifts.
Her mind drifts from memory to memory, the feelings from each one drowning her mind like someone who is being held underwater for too long. Running her shaking fingers through her smooth, sandy blonde hair, Jane grips and pulls hard as the burning rage from the next memory overtakes her. Jane closes her eyes and lets the nasty, hateful scene play out before her.
Bang, bang. “What is taking you so long in there, fuck Jane!” her mother screams at her as she pounds on the bathroom door. “There are things your stupid ass needs to do, playing in water will get you nowhere you little freak!”
Jane lets the bath water cover her completely, holding her breath as she waits for the rage ridden alcoholic hag formally known as her mother, to leave. Jane hates her, can’t stand her. The water is the only thing that can take the pain away. The water understands, it feels the anger and soothes her like ice cream to a sore throat. Jane wishes that the water would take her away, would fill her chest full. Jane begs for this.
Freezing cold wind slicing at her arms like long thin knives, stirs Jane from the memory. The wind freezes her tears to her face and her body is slammed with tremors causing her to fall to her knees. The water splashes, hitting her everywhere. Jane can’t take the pain that wracks her body; can’t take the hurt from the unforgiving words everyone screams at her day and night. Jane doesn’t understand the hate everyone throws at her. She cannot help it if water loves her and her muscles love to be surrounded in it. She doesn’t want to fear water and its love, but their horrible words cause her to be afraid, cause her to want to stay away. Nobody wants to be the odd one out; nobody wants to be seen as different, as weird. Jane knows she has a connection to water, she can feel its love. They are one, but nobody believes her, they don’t understand.
Jane digs her fingers into the damp sand beneath her. The rough yet smooth grains grinding into her pale palms help to soothe the emotions that are overpowering her. Jane can feel the winter’s water warming her skin where it touches. Her mind cries that it should be cold and bitter on her skin, and she should move away from it but Jane lays down and lets it cover her body. Jane lets it warm her skin where it is icy and cold, she lets it comfort and hold her like she is in a warm cocoon. Jane’s skin and muscles soak up the water like a lizard would the sun. Jane’s mind becomes clear and relaxes as she dozes off in the slight rock and roll of waves.
Fish in all colours, shapes and sizes surround Jane as she sleeps in the ocean; they lift her up off the sand and carry her through the water, taking her out deeper into its depths. The ocean’s waters sing to Jane slowly rousing her from her sleep. As her eyes gradually open the ocean’s melody plays sweetly to her, keeping her calm as she sluggishly reaches beneath her and runs the buds of her fingertips across the slimy scales of a fish. The fish doesn’t dart away, doesn’t move out of reach, it just allows Jane to run her fingertips all over it. Jane is stunned but as the water feels her start to panic, the beautiful melody swims further into her mind. The melody speaks to each part of her, mind, body and soul, it reassures and centres her. The peace she feels is magical, beautiful, safe. It is like a mother’s cuddle on a really bad day, or the feeling you get when a song hits home.
Jane looks around her at all the beautiful fish; some are large and brightly coloured, some are two-tone and small, some with spots and some with stripes. They are all dazzling in their own way, even the plain ones. They carry her through colourful coral beds until Jane sees an archway into what looks like a cave. The beauty mesmerizes Jane. Tiny, honeycombed coral in bright greens and reds make up the base of the structure until about halfway when it moves into long blue spikes, like large rose thorns.
Jane tries to move away from the fish to walk over to the cave but the fish catch her every move, not letting her touch the sand. It is as if they are scared to lose her. Jane whispers out into the water, her words come out perfectly as if it is a normal thing to do. Jane reaches her hands up and places them at her throat. Stunned, she tries again.
“Um … fish … um little fish friends, may I please have a look?”
The fish move inch-by-inch placing her feet down into the sand. Jane walks through the water easily, there is no weight holding her down. It’s as if she is the water herself. Jane runs her hands lightly over the entrance of the cave; the coral is smooth yet hard and solid. There are fish everywhere, entering and leaving the cave, some must be the ones who brought her here but she hasn’t any idea who is who. Jane continues to walk into the cave, music flows through the water, the melody happy and playful like an excited puppy. Jane cannot help the bounce in her step or the smile on her face. Her pace speeds up; she cannot wait to get to where she is going. The hallway of the cave turns into a large open space that looks like a ballroom, only it is made out of brightly coloured honeycombed coral that all the fish swim in and out of like they’re playing in a playground. Hard brown rock-coral with green spongy moss covering the tops are placed around the edges of the large room like seats, only no one is sitting on them but this room is not empty, it is full, there are people everywhere.
The people are like Jane, they look no different and they are underwater too. Baffled, Jane stares at them sailing and swirling around the room, dancing to music that seems to be seeping in through the walls of coral and into their souls. They are all dressed for this party, all of them fit together perfectly wearing shiny bright silk dresses that twirl around their legs or loose silk pants and colourful shirts. Jane’s chest burns, she wants to fit in with them but looking down at her messy and unclean clothes, she knows this is just another place she doesn’t belong. Jane feels pressure build behind her lower eyelids, threating to burst like the seams on a bag filled to full. Jane digs her fingernails into her palms, she doesn’t want to cry. She pulls her eyes closed and prays. I will not cry.
“Hello dear, are you Jane?”
Jane’s eyes pull open, standing before her is a small girl. She looks to be about sixteen, the same age as Jane. The girl’s hair is blonde. Not sandy blonde like Jane’s, but white blonde and curly; her skin is freckle-less and creamy white. The girl’s eyes are shaped like little almonds, they are light golden brown like golden syrup and they match her smiling lips, kind and sweet. “I am Jane, yes.”
“Great.” The girl giggles and pulls Jane into a hug, then, holding her at arms lengths she says, “I’ve been waiting for you. I’m Rachel.”
Jane is in shock, she stutterers, “Niiice to meeeeet yyou.”
Rachel’s smile grows. “You are lovely, just lovely.” She touches Jane’s face. “You will leave soon, my dear, but you know this. Here is where you are welcome and where you belong.”
Rachel’s eyes grow serious.
“You can be different, you believe and feel differently from everyone here but as long as your heart is good—and Jane, your heart is good—you will always belong here.”
Jane’s whole body tingles like she has pins and needles. Her eyes swell with tears and she lets them run freely down her face.
“Thank you, but where is here?”
“Here is where it matters most.” Rachel leans forward and presses a kiss softly on Jane’s cheek. “Be well and remember that, my dear.”
Jane’s smile grows across her face. She is about to reply and thank Rachel when her body becomes light and the beautiful scene before her eyes disappears. Jane’s arms shoot out.
“No! Please!” she screams, but it is too late. Rachel, the cave and the fish are gone.
Everything is just black.
Water splashes onto Jane’s face waking her. It is freezing. Jane springs up into sitting. She looks around; the water is flooding the shore. The beach is coming into high tide. Jane thinks about moving, knows she should but she doesn’t. Her body is numb. She can’t feel anything, can’t understand what just happened but she prays it wasn’t a dream.
“Please lord; don’t let it be a dream.”
Cassandra Axon is a 20-year-old personal trainer who not only has a passion for health and fitness but reading and writing as well. Cassandra is studying a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds campus, with the hopes one day to become a successful writer.