In a city where electric lights outshone the stars, a boy lived with his family. His father was an architect and his mother a painter, though much of her time was spent running errands in town. When the boy was neither short nor tall, the family traveled to spend the Summer on a rugged coast. Windswept pines leered, clinging to the sand, inky green against the beryl blue ocean. There, it seemed as though they were alone in the world. In the days the mother would paint, the father would read thick books and the boy traipsed across the endless strand, losing track of time and himself. The tide wove in and out of jagged rocks swirling soft, shimmering flecks of sand between his toes. Above the waves, he climbed over craggy shelves and discovered a different world.
In crystalline blue waters he saw delicate patterns engraved on snail shells and the infinite places a small animal could hide. Strange creatures, smooth as the sky itself, swayed in liquid motion, reaching outwards with translucent purple tendrils. The cascading pools brimmed with creatures of granite white, anvil brown and oily black streaked with pink. Spiny creatures moved minutely and the boy marked their positions to track their progress. Among these slow movers were transparent shrimp shuttling through the water, drifting down in whimsical dance. Quick, sharp, silver skinned fish darted into crevices, hiding from the boy’s sun-cast shadow.
He lay beside the pools, head on his hands, peering off rocky lips, transfixed by the small worlds. The rest of existence slipped by around him, cloudlike. He knew the sun’s position by how creatures mirrored it, shifting out of reach or directly into its rays of lucid warmth. With fingers dangling from the edge, cutting the water like triangular sailboats, he watched.
Day turned to night and the boy would rise stiffly from the rocks; his sunned skin cold with night air, scrawled red and pink with tender tracings from the sea ledge. He set his step homeward, appetite voracious and thoughts pooling with colors. His mind as limitless and filled with life as the pools he'd spent his eyes on.
His family sat at a wooden table, candles dancing in brass arms like fiery tridents, lighting their angular faces. Their physical differences were offset by a pronounced feeling of like-mindedness. Shadows waltzed on the walls as they ate quietly. The boy’s father eyed his food, calculating each bite by its supposed amount of nutrients. His mother mused over her meal, colors weaving together as her fork swirled with the graceful sweeps of a paintbrush. The boy saw each bite as a billion pulsing pieces; each a magnificent world of its own.
When the dishes were stacked to dry he would walk with his mother to the sunroom. Her long fingers flicked on the old light switch with a hollow “clunk,” washing the room in an amber glow. She showed him her work from the day, describing why she chose certain colors and how they worked together, untangling the story in the painting. Smoothing the air above parts of the canvas she loved most, illustrating with egret-like hands how flawed strokes often revealed themselves to be the most genius. This was the essence of her endless pursuit. She spoke of painting the way he imagined a great scientist might speak of a lifelong quandary; the mystery that's existence illuminated his own. When his mother spoke, her silken tones caught the air like colored scarves and the night erupted with blue, red and purple light. She was in endless pursuit of this joy her soul depended on as oxygen. During times that she went without painting, it was as if someone had flicked off the bloom in the sunroom of her eyes. She became dulled, distant, cautious of her interactions and distracted.
The boy slept in a room overlooking the sea. The moon cast its silver rays on the waves, sky alight with flickering far off life, a tide pool. His head became as infinite as the sky, turning over itself, out like the tide, trillions of miniature stars in a soaring sea.
He dreamed he was like a fish but without the constriction of a physical body.-spiraling like silver porpoise, soaring skywards in arcs of prismed light, shattering the sky with streams of beaded glass.
In the days to come he experienced the same sensation by the pools, a feeling of expansion. The time spent by the ocean was the most sober and spiritual he had known since his first recollections. This space awakened a knowing in him that was lost under layers of life and living.
It was here that the boy grew into a man and his mother again became an artist. It was here that his father built one boat, then another, gradually shaping a life with the sea. Here where the sky met the water; where the moon glowed above the sea as well as below, and the wild world frolicked in a language of love. Colors writhed alive inside themselves and a single spark of bliss built to a roaring flame of oneness. Here by the tide pool.