I can feel it as soon as the sand is beneath my feet. Stepping from behind the cement curtain of "civilization," the sound of the ocean washes over me. Buildings left behind, the gritty stage of Mother Nature emerges and displays her drama.
Choking on every-day life, stifled by responsibility, expectations, society, I give myself into the sand to let her breathe for me -- just as I do some nights, unable to sleep, curling myself around my husband so our lungs move together. I am instantly lulled by the steady waves; the gasps of water that sigh back into the cradle of earth.
It is there that I hear them, the whispers in the briny air. The words of the dead swirl in the water, bubbling up in the foam. They dissipate, slipping away only to reform into silent screams. Millions of years' worth of emotions broil in the depths, fighting each other for a voice but can only fizz into nothing. They are desperate for someone to listen, biting through my flesh to speak. The sea has messages, but no bottles to harness them.
The wind slashes through me, buffing away all regrets. I close my eyes, and hear only what cannot be said. Tiny granules of sand rub my skin raw of guilt, of agony, of sadness. The deepest loneliness opens up into the chasm of earth filled with the tears of ghosts. Their cacophony splashes onto me and bits of my life sluice away down my flesh.
I bury my self-hatred in wet clumps of sand, piling it high over my legs. It is smashed away by the surf, and I am left open. Here is my flesh, broken for you; eat all you of it. God devours me, stripping me to the bone, gnawing off the cartilage to spit back into the cauldron of life. There is no blood left to shed, no more tears to spill.
The sun burns off the fog of depression, leaving me as the raw, white flesh under skin sliced open. Vulnerable, with salt in my wounds, I am kneeling upon the grains as penance for my sins. Forgiveness rushes through the chambered nautilus of my soul, etching its way into the rough edges.
The waves bathe me in death to breathe life, saving me. I raise up cleansed, chest rising and falling in time with the tide. Nature has baptized me, broken me free from the hell of my own prison. The maelstrom has been swept away, placing me on dry land. The whispers in the foam turn to sweet murmurs of prayer.
It is here, breathing at one with the earth, that I am reborn into someone I love.