Going down to the ocean is a requirement. We must return home every now and then, after all. Wading in, the ocean asks me why I am here, but I don’t answer. My throat hurts because the words are all stuck there, and I have to swallow often in the hope that they will fall back inside me. Words are always so sharp.
“Why are you here?” the ocean asks me once more, but again, I don’t answer because of the words. But it’s okay not to answer, and no offense is taken. The waves are like whispers when they flow outward, and then they come crashing back and the whispering changes to roaring. They are busy and their busy-ness is calming. My throat relaxes a bit and some tears escape. I am already wet, so no one will be the wiser, but the ocean never misses a thing.
“For what??” I ask, exasperated at the interruption.
“Why, the tears, of course. They are good and salty, like me.”
“I should think you have enough to last you forever.”
“Oh no,” he says, “I will always take more salty tears.”
“Surely the rain provides enough tears for you?”
“Not at all. Heaven’s tears are too sweet, but yours are just right.”
“Well, I have enough of them to last a lifetime,” I respond.
“Good. I’ll take as many of them as I can get. I am not yet ready for heaven.”
“Yeah, me either, and I’m not sure I’d be welcome.”
“Well, then,” he says, “Heaven doesn’t know what it’s missing.”
“What will you do with the tears?” I ask.
“I will take your tears and wash them for you in the waves.”
“And then what? Will they be clean?”
“Cleaner than they are now,” he says.
“And then what will you do with them?”
“I’ll bring them back to you.”
“I don’t want them! I’m tired of them!” I yell, realizing that my throat does not hurt anymore.
“I’ll wrap them up in bright red and place them back inside your veins.”
“That sounds gruesome.”
“Not at all,” the ocean says, “That’s where they formed in the first place. I gave you this ability a long time ago so we could always be close.”
“How will you do it?”
“I’ll send them on the waves, like I do everything else. Listen for the whispers.”
Knowing now I must surely be mad, I leave the ocean without saying another word and wade back toward the shore. I forget my manners a lot like that, but he never chastises me. My skin is very tingly from the constant waves hitting me. It feels good. The ocean scent is crisp in the air, and I breathe deeply, listening to the undulating waves, already forgetting our conversation. The gulls are shouting rudely overhead.
The clouds in the distance look like rain might be coming, but I am not yet ready for heaven. I know I had better get back to my car. I have a lot of things to do and some good ideas now about how to do them all. I’m not sure where the ideas came from, but my head is clearer now. The words aren’t hurting my throat anymore, either. I lick my lips and they’re salty. I’m not sure if the salt is from my tears or from the ocean’s waves. I’m not sure if it matters. They are good and salty, though.