The water was warm in the inlet, shallow enough for the sun to comb its long fingers down to the scrubby bottom while the ocean gently tugged at its edges. It rippled under the breeze, and turned gently with every tide. The top gleamed blue and gold. The fish flicked idle fins through the clear water, and nosed carelessly between the green-ribboned plants. A single log dropped into the water a few yards out, pointing straight down into the water, while the top leaned against the rock face that closed around the wide pool.
Mier had memorized the features of the pool a long time ago. She had wasted a thousand afternoons here, slipping into the quiet and letting it slide the hours by without announcement. Most times, she carried some small work in, kept her hands busy and let her mind wander. She sat on the log, and watched the sun and ocean in their shifting sameness. She slipped her toes under the warm silk of the surface, and kicked bright flecks of water off them. She tried to imagine silk that flowed so perfectly, or held so seamlessly, or hugged so warmly.
When work was finished, or when she hadn’t bothered to bring it at all, she shucked herself out of her clothes, left them hanging on the angled log and ducked her whole self under the water.
There wasn’t silk like that. There wasn’t anything else that could hold so firmly, and leave the limbs so free to turn and twist in all the motions they were capable of. Even her favorite shirt, her favorite shoes, her favorite scarf, had moments of binding somewhere in them. They held her right for all the moments that mattered, maybe, but she had found that one stretch that each of them disallowed. But she hadn’t found the water’s limit yet.
Meir wasn’t sure how it could feel so firm around her, when she knew it also had a way of worrying her apart. Her arms drifted up, out, away from her ribs. Her hair drifted off the back of her neck, and even tied together in a tail, the water gave it permission to split into its singular strands. There was always space between her fingers, and her toes. The only things that tightened were her lungs, and eventually, even they gave up in the water and questioned what it might be like to burst outward until she calmed them again with air.
And still, she felt tucked in.
She watched the sand puff and slide in the water. She saw ink swirl apart, and blood thin to nothing. But she felt more knit and whole, than anywhere in the air.
The water pushed in hard, kept her slow, but quieted all other demands, giving every bit of the world that wandered through the gentle permission to forget about silly laws like gravity.