I can hardly move. Perhaps I am not moving at all. I am cold and weightless. There is nothing under my feet. I can’t tell if my eyes are closed or it is simply very dark. I touch them to figure what my eyelids are doing. That is when I recognize the dense flow between my fingers – they are not moving through the air, but through something way thicker. I am under water.
I have definitely not became a mermaid, I infer by examining the rest of my body with my hands. Everything is where it should be. But what about my internal organs? There is no way for me to determine that, but something is not right – I am under water and I am breathing.
I move around with ease and elegance – with one swing of my arms I am crossing the length of hundred human steps. It is so easy that I forget about the darkness and cold. I dive for hours, in search of anything. I realize that I was overusing the word “anything” my whole life without knowing the weight of its meaning. This is the first time that I truly need anything – anything that is not me.
Hours pass by and my fear transforms into wonder. I try to remember how I got here and not a single lightbulb in my head blinks. Eventually I remember living in a place with all the four seasons. The last thing I saw before the dive was snow. My hands had a memory of the touch of animal fur. A face of a girl that I loved, furrowed with sadness. Her name I don’t know. Somebody’s palm, warm and soft, that I put under my cheek. Dirt in my nostrils and under my nails, one of my brothers and I were digging trenches, just wide enough so that only we can creep in. We were hiding from the noise, fire and tiny pieces of window glass that would burst into our home at night. Taste of sweat and wine I lick of someone’s chest. The texture of somebody’s hand underneath me, somehow I am so small that I fit in two of them. I remember the strong bass in my chest, so deep that I can feel it carve my bones.
Turns out the last one is not a memory. With every piece of hair on my head I can feel it coming through the dark.
Huge body is ruthlessly approaching me, like a space ship. For the first time in this underwater decade, my eyes can see – fuzzy surface furrowed with algae and little shells. Right before my face, somebody’s eye, watching me in silence.
The big anything is finally here.
“Who are you?” – I hear myself stuttering.
“I am The Free Monk of Sombrero galaxy.“ – responds the voice so deep that Leonard Cohen felt ashamed somewhere in the skies.
“Hello free monk…do you have a name?”
“I have too many to remember. Right now I am a Blue Whale.”
I have been dreaming about this encounter since I was a little girl. I can remember from the books: this creature is big as a building, his heart is the size of a family car, his arteries so wide I can walk through them. But his eye is barely bigger then mine, when I bulge my eyes out at the ophthalmologist.
“Blue whale…you are the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. But how is your eye so human like?”
“Thanks. Well you are not the first human I meet. Somehow I always get the same impression – you think you know things. So funny. Trying to get in touch with aliens, although you still do not understand the creatures living on your own planet. Not even your own species.
Once upon a time, I left the ocean. Over the millennia, I grew legs and some hair. From shallow waters, I went into the woods. Over the next few thousands years, I lived as a fledgling four-legged creature, ate rat-like animals and learned how to use my newly acquired status in biosystem. Then, I grew into a real wolf. I lived on my own, I lived in a pack. When there was nothing left to search for, I felt nostalgic for the ocean. I got back to the water and waited patiently for my fins to come back to me. But the ocean was nothing as I remembered.
However, there I was. I rattled with my scrubby little legs until they transformed into this glorious tail I have today. Did you know that Siberian wolf is my closer relative than a walrus? All that was left unchanged, to remind me of myself through all of the eras, is the eye you are looking at.”
“But how on Earth do you remember all of that?”
“A moment will come – and luckily you don’t know where or when – and your atoms will decide to abandon you. They will go on, to the earth, air, or further up, above the air. Sooner or later, they will meet to form you again.”
“Why are you so sure of that?”
“Because your atoms were never obliged to make you. There were million other ways to form a life, but they precisely chose you. Nobody forced them to. They made you out of the simplest elements, easily found in the nature. Nothing exclusive, no diamonds or rare minerals. But, for some wonderous occurrence, only you are you.”
“So freedom is the birthplace of all the life?”
“Might be. I have been here much longer than you, sapiens female. I made far more mistakes and through them learned too much to remember. But I can tell you this, just to save you a bit of time: on some occasions, you will have to be liquid, on others, airy. At times you will be purple, at times furry, or maybe you have already been those things. You slithered and sniffed your potential meal with a forked tongue in the dry, desert air. You poured down from a cloud over a little Indonesian village. They celebrated – you were the water they desperately prayed for so their seedlings would grow and feed their children.
Only what changes, survives. Is there a greater adventure than changing your shape and even state of matter throughout your everlasting existence?
There is no greater adventure than existence. Actually, there’s nothing else in general.” – a whale burst into a roaring laugh, like a hundred tons heavy Santa Claus.
I laughed too, and this little spasm on my face felt like an ancient, warm memory.
“Hey free monk…what do you think of me staying here with you? We can make each other company. And also I have nowhere else to go.”
“Hey human girl. Where I live, time moves way differently than it does in your world. Do not forget – you dived into the spacetime curve. You can wonder through the darkness for years and decades and they might feel shorter than your favorite song. However, these years are only yours. Don’t let them pass by unnoticed.
Those who wait for you on the outside…and among them, I see countless versions of you, they saw it happening. In their eyes, the black hole tore you apart half a century ago. This is not even science fiction, us whales believe only in empirical science.“
“So…we are not in the ocean, but in a black hole?!”
“You are a slow learner, daughter. Go right away. Your lungs will come back any time soon.”
“But how do I find the exit?”
“Follow the bass. Happy New Year and see you soon!”
He winked and swam away into the darkness.
I am on my own again. No map, no signs. Worlds inside of me are moving. At last, I feel pain. Instead of an endless pit inside my chest, pair of lungs grow back. I have little time left until I breathe the water in and give my body away to the sea creatures. Would be so sweet to just fall asleep.
Instead, my body starts spinning and I feel the fiery, forgotten touch of my hear on my face. Gentle tornado of little, silver fish pulls me into its vortex. Beautiful, magnificent fish. I can see colors of the rainbow sparkle on each particle of the scale. They wiggle around my fingers like cats, letting me touch them. I smile at them, they smile at me. Wrapped around me like a homogenous body, fish take me to the surface with an incredible force.
I emerge, breathe in. The newfound beauty implodes in me as a year long orgasm.
New day found me on a chair in my kitchen. Out the window, roofs of Belgrade covered in snow. Above the stove, a face that I know so well, focused on cooking. Steam leaves the pot and rushes through the window, up in the air, to become a cloud.