What the tide brought in
I don’t know what prompts me to look, every day, at the tide as it comes in. Perhaps an ingrained nature, or perhaps something deeper. The second, I often think, is more likely.
Is it that water is not contingent upon place, but instead has a universality that no other things has? Or is it because water here is of the same substance as water elsewhere, and my nature thus inclines towards it?
Inclines, thus, substance, I really think I’m going crazy here, maybe turning into a hermit, those old guys who sit on mountain tops and give advice to anyone who climbs past. You get the feel they’re nuts. But maybe they’re not, maybe we were. Maybe they had a unity none of ever had, even I who spoke of that virtue to extollently.
The tide in an interesting thing to watch, the rhythmic sound of the waves soothing and calming.
Maybe it’s because the sea brought me to my first home, maybe that.
The sea bore me, thus I bore the sea. I bore it, that is, it could be bored watching me watch it in silence for hours. Or maybe the sea loves its children, especially those children that contemplate it.
I move now, my feet making the same prints in the sand they did when I came to my first home. Even the tears that drip from my face cannot mar them. Homesick, that’s what I am. Next to a sea, in fact the same sea that brought me to my first home, and I’m homesick.
But the sea was far off when it brought me to that home, and that home is no more. I look up sometimes, expecting to see gate of my village, see the huts that house my friends and charges. But the sea is empty, only its presence familiar to me. I tell myself sometimes that they’re still alive, that I still have a duty to them. Rational logical arguments, but I am not rational, I am not logical. Those faculties stayed behind with my home, and were shattered with my home.
Sometimes I bow my head as I walk alone, or when I sit or lie. In shame, in anger. I who spoke of unity have broken that bond. I tell myself at times that I am unified with the sea, but such arguments are weak and fail. I have abandoned those whom I love in my weeping, and separated myself from them.
I am Gali, Toa Nuva of Water. I am no more than what the tide brought in.
The tide is wild, and I am wild. It brought me in can it take me out? Those thoughts have plagued me in my sleepless nights, and they overwhelm me now.
I step into the waves, taking my Nuva mask of water breathing off. Deeper and deeper I wade.
You brought me in on Mata Nui. Bring me out from Spherus Magna.
I hardly notice the fist of water that I form slam into me. As I lose consciousness, the waters surround me, and at last I am unified with it.
The tide brought me in; the tide has brought me back out.
Chronic Morning Syndrome
My employer has chronic morning syndrome. (It’s not a real syndrome, but it should be.) Whenever he demands to meet me in the morning, my first thought is dislike, and my second thought, coming to me when I finally arrive at his “office” — a casino on the edge of town — is, Well, well, look what the tide brought in.
Mr. Anonymous Criminal Mastermind certainly looks the part of washed-up detritus. His hair is short, yet that somehow makes it look even messier. He wears glasses; they do nothing to disguise his lazy eye. He’s thin as though he skips breakfast as a custom, and his suit is generally one button off. I think his five-o’clock stubble is part of the mask he puts on every day. Bonus points for when he forgets to brush his teeth.
“Kel, you’re late.”
I award myself bonus points when his breath slaps me upside the head.
“Sorry, sir. Was busy.”
“Sir, I would’ve thought you knew me better than to accuse me of such villainy.”
He grunts. I grin.
“...No women, sir. A few cigarettes, though.”
“I can’t have a thief high on the job,” he says. “—not to imply you don’t already act like that, but still.”
“What job, may I ask?”
He presses a button behind his desk, and a hazy gray hologram shimmers to life above its polished wood. I give it a cursory once-over before returning to trying to gaud him into a staring contest. I’m not afraid of him. He always says he kills people who annoy him, but I’m like a son — a son who’s done his share of dirty work over the past five years. An extra robbery here and a clean database wipe there can do wonders for employee-employer relations.
“Blueprints,” he grunts, as though I hadn’t looked already. “From your last database wipe, I—”
“The one against the biggest arms developer this side of the Atlantic?”
“The biggest arms developer in the world, actually. And they’re developing something big for the U.S. military.”
“So is this another touch-and-go operation?” I query.
He shakes his head. “Infiltration.”
I lean my head back and stifle a groan. Infiltration is a fancy word for spending weeks working your tookus off to get into enemy territory and get back out again without being detected. Believe me, it’s just as difficult as it is wordy.
“You’re the best at this sort of thing.”
“Yeah... top of the class.”
“That’s the spirit.” Boy, is he sarcastic today. He slides over a datachip — “All the info you’ll need is on this.”
I heft it. “Security codes and everything?”
“Good. Anything else I should know?”
I’m all business now. I think he appreciates my sarcastic side’s temporary lull, because he’s smiling a little. “The job starts today. Good-bye.”
“I — what?”
“You heard me. Get to it. The designs will be physical in just a week. You need to work fast, Kel.”
I nod. “Right.” Then, a final cavalier comment just to tick him off before I leave: “Your jacket looks nice this morning. I think you buttoned it all the way up this time.”
He looks down and immediately curses. I grin as I turn away, but when the office door closes behind me, I can’t help but wonder if this assignment is the one where he finally gets rid of me.
I've never been much for twisting things in life to fit into some kind of deep, philosophical metaphor. You know this, I must have told you at least a dozen times. Those whispered conversations in the back of study halls, or sitting out on the grassy hill behind my house, watching stars play hide and seek behind the moonlit clouds. I do miss those days.
Do you remember, senior year in AP Literature class? I'm sure you do. And do you remember the paper we had to write? Well, I remember mine.
'People, I had written, 'In your life are like the waves that lap on the sand. They are like the tide that can never decide how much of the beach it wants to consume, always receding and advancing in a dubious cycle. People, the tides of people in your life, they shape you and mold you and change you in so many different ways. You are always the same familiar beach, but you are never the same as before. They come and they go, taking and leaving the most unexpected things.'
Oh, if I had only known then.
To quote one of my favorite songs:
"He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came."
When I fell in love with that song, I never imagined I would ever be able to relate to it on such a personal level. The funny thing is, I don't think you've even heard that song. So you couldn't have planned all this.
Perhaps my beach is not the most unique. Others in the world have similar stories, I know. Similar yet each unique. Your footprints in the sand walked beside my own for the longest time. I fooled myself into thinking it could be forever. And then, all of the sudden, my feet were the only ones leaving prints in the weathered sand.
You see, as I looked back over my lonely tracks, I hated you. Your footprints had vanished without a trace, leaving mine lonely on the barren sand. But like I had written in that ironic little essay, people are like a tide. Our prints were washed away, needless to say, by a new tide.
I'd like to tell you, I no longer walk alone. Tiny footprints in the sand stumble alongside my own. And I will fight the ocean, the entire ocean, to protect those little footprints from being washed away by the world.