from “A Family Among Us”
Four of them, a family, crawled naked from the sea clutching plastic suitcases. Like a brass section in an orchestra they drew breath into their lungs for the first time in days, months, years, decades. They were ageless, the mother and father, boy and girl. Slowly, the gills on their necks flattened and disappeared into skin, leaving only faint watermarks that suggested long forgotten scars or birthmarks. It hurt at first, their lungs rising and falling, rising and falling.
The decision to leave the sea was permanent, a unanimous vote to abandon the fuselage that had been their home, for how many years they could not count. On shore, among the smooth rocks and wet driftwood, they dressed. They stood on uncertain legs. Out of the water their arms seemed to move too fast, cutting through the air without resistance. For the first time the children heard waves crashing, birds overhead, and felt the warmth of the sun on their bare skin. A multitude of smells swirled about the children, and they smiled and dripped dry for the first time in memory.