they say you were borne of the sea.
they say you were different from all the others born before you. they say it in that too-soft, too-quiet way that they say secrets they wish you wouldn't hear: they say you were born aboard a sinking ship. you were born in the heart of a storm. ( they neglect to add that you were the storm. ) when the ship sank, the sea — your real mother — carried you to shore.
they said you learned to swim before you could sink. they said maybe it was a mermaid that saved you. ( you were not a baby then, why do they always speak of you like you were? ) they laugh. they look at you and expect you to laugh. you do. you do, like you always do and you smile, defiantly, in the way you do when you know a secret they don't.
you've known the truth your whole life: you were cursed by a sea-witch, not saved. she stole your heart and left you to bleed. she stole your heart when you were seven and taught you the art of forgetting because forgetting is somehow easier than it is to remember.
it is easier than to remember the quiet suffering you have known your whole life because you were not born swimming. you were never an ocean child like your siblings before you.
you never kissed the sea-mist. you knew the discomfort of knowing you could fall forever and you'd never come up again for air. you never knew the lull of the waves. you knew the nausea that comes with an unsettled ship. you never knew fluttering of a fish's wings. you knew the watering of the eyes, the swelling of the throat that came with a crawfish's shell. you never knew and when you drowned, you drowned.
you were not borne of the sea, like they say.
when you turn seven, you start to forget. you sit there, tight-fisted and miserable as you bite back the tears when teachers call you problem child. you sit there, quiet when your mother and your father start to ask you questions. why did you do that? why did you hit them? why did your hurt your teacher? why were you so angry? you don't know how to answer. you don't remember how it happened. you don't remember how it was that you became so angry you nearly lifted a printer and threw it at your teacher. you don't remember what they said. you don't remember. you don't remember. you don't remember.
you realize that day the sea-witch stole your voice.
when you turn twelve, you keep forgetting. you're less concerned, you're less interested, you're less and less and less. they say it's a lack of ambition, but you wonder if they ever really listened to you in the first place. if they did, maybe they would have realized that it wasn't for lack of caring so much as it was lack of ability. you learned quickly that there isn't much you can do that your siblings can't. for the children of amphitrite, the world is limitless. for you, child of calypso, the world is finite. you don't remember why.
you realize that day the sea-witch stole your legs.
when you turn thirteen, you don't remember a thing. you don't remember why it is you tried so hard to forget. you don't remember why it ever mattered what your siblings thought of you. you don't remember why it ever mattered how your parents looked at you. you don't remember why anything ever mattered.
you don't recall why it is you aren't very surprised when they find you, happily sleeping on a park bench in the middle of winter because at least it is away from them and you don't have to hear them asking why you keep doing this. they ask you what it is they're doing wrong and you're angry, you're angry because this isn't how it's supposed to be. they're not supposed to ask you what's wrong. they're supposed to know because you don't. they ask when this all started. you don't remember either. you don't care.
you realize that day the sea-witch stole your love.
when you turn fifteen, you don't remember why you let yourself drown. ( a sea-witch never had anything to do with it. )