Billy Barnes bobbed his way down the surf where the sky met the sea. He looked around his private stretch of beach having driven an hour north of his seaside home for solitude in his final moments alive. He didn’t want to see anybody, kiss no tears goodbye as he readied the dive that would end his life.
Curling his toes deep into cool damp sand, he marveled on a splotch of moonlight breaking through dun clouds illuminating his blood brown hand. His family traced their lineage back to farmers, but Billy always felt best at sea.
Stripping off his ratty t-shirt, he felt the cotton glide between his shriveled fingertips. Instinctively, he raised the ripped gray thing to his lips taking a deep whiff, letting the smell of his life overwhelm him. Sweat and Axe cologne summoned images of unmade bed sheets and past due notices stapled to his pockmarked door. Billy brought down his shirt crumpled into the sand, grateful he would not have to deal with his losing hand ever again.
At 9:58pm, Billy Barnes said goodbye to his life on land and walked into the choppy sea.
He heaved stones into the water, hoping the rope triple tied to his waist would hold. Cold waves scalded his smooth skin, one final warning to turn back. Sucking in one final breath of salty air, he threw the stones over the sandbar’s edge and let himself be pulled under.
Frigid water shocked his mind wider awake than he’d felt in his 28 years above land. In five months of ideating suicide, he didn’t foresee the sensation of feeling utterly alive at last. He wanted to push back against the loan collectors, the medical bills, the too-small desk job and propel himself higher! Billy opened his eyes and tried to fight his way back to the surface, yet the rocks had set their intention on other pursuits.
Racing to the bottom, the stones sank gleefully while Billy pumped his scrawny limbs trying to catch a wave. Squeezing his mouth shut, he pulled with all his might against the roaring tides of the Pacific Ocean’s apathy. Sinking past a pod of dolphins, for a split second Billy believed he heard laughter. His body boiled and he wondered if this is how lobsters felt in a French Kitchen.
Energy spent, his lips split open and out bubbled his last gasp of air. Billy grabbed at his bubbles, failing to pull life back into his lungs. He swallowed sea water and instinctively coughed, sucking in more dark muck closing in around him. His heart wanted to scream “I’M ALIVE!!!,” to run and dance across the sands, but the light faded further as he felt his spirit crush under the frigid pressure. Ears popping, Billy woozily let his final moments of serenity belong to the sea.
Billy breathed. He opened his eyes, incredulous at his mind’s post mortem fantasy yet found nothing fictionalized about his fate. Air filtered through gills in his neck and he swept his hands down his navel to his missing genitals and legs. Where there had once stood skin now beheld one scaled tail feeling about 10 feet long by Billy’s estimate. Billy flicked his new appendage and a burst of energy surged through his core, snapping free the stones content in their descent. He swam higher in elated loops, laughing at his good fortune and fate. Dolphins found him committing cartwheels through a school of trout and settled into formation akin to a king’s guard. One dolphin swam face to face with Billy and spoke telepathically.
Billy built his new tail’s strength swimming for miles alongside his chaperones. He felt his mind pulling in new directions, feeling new avenues of possibilities open up in his descent. His eyes could see farther and clearer in the dark, the sensation of breathing through gills fresh and clean. He blinked and realized he didn’t feel the pressure of the ocean anymore, his dark skin taking on a glowing hue as if he could take on a giant squid with his pinkie.
You don’t want to do that; giant squids are essential predators to the ocean’s ecology, a dolphin to Billy’s right thought back. Billy nodded in recognition, unsure how to verbalize his response.
Another hundred nautical miles and the dolphin pod crested one final rise revealing a white stone castle comfortably barren tucked beside a coral reef. Billy gazed in wonder as his skin took on an ever brighter luminosity, feeling his strength return stronger and fuller than he could remember. The dolphins guided him past Greecian columns and aquatic busts of famous fish noblemen and aristocracy down a long torched hallway to an empty dais. Two dolphins swam Billy to the top and sat him on the empty throne.
Welcome home, Poseidon.
Jordan Resnick is a visionary witch currently residing at home, wherever that is at the moment. She enjoys traveling and new perspectives and her constant companion, Jimi Hendrix. Ig: @jordanestherr