The feel of a ship against his side, dragging and pulling and stripping away skin, or what was once skin. And then, the harsh blissful cold of the water. Aggravating and calming and without a mouthful of air left between the two. And then there is more of the darkness.
Being suspended, and held without an up or down. No, there is a definite up, and it's calling to every cell in his body. How many men before him have pitted their hopes against the harsh reality of gravity, have wished for the pull of the sun and the sky to be greater? Then there is a voice, one that all men of the sea recognise as the ring of the hard impact of the sea against their skill, the trickle of cold water into their ears. It says:
You once loved a woman.
Yes, he thinks. I did love a woman.
Do you still love this woman?
There is an ache in his chest, not of air in lungs or lungs without, but deeper. A hole right through him. Stabbed in the heart, and tossed overboard. This is what happens to men who love women. This is what happens when choices – when sacrifices – are made.
This woman scorned me. I do not want to love her. I want to be free from her.
He is buffeted by the waves, his head tilts back and no air passes through his open lips. He tells himself that he can see the sun shining down through the waves, but there are some myths that no man can truly believe.
You know who I am?
A bubble of air, caught behind his tongue, floats upwards, carrying with it a name: Calypso.
There was once a goddess who loved a man, and a man who loved the sea, and all three betrayed each other. I am a goddess, and you are a man. What is your name?
There is a thump within his chest, and then another. A painful irregular beat, where before there was only cold, and a stillness. Warm water presses around him, like hands dragging a small child out of bathwater. He inhales, and warmth fills him like sunlight, like sea air, like a feeling he thought was lost.
"My name is James."