The waves crashed in on him like a pyramid shattering, crumbling with the force of kings rising in their tombs. Glass ceilings of aqua blue held him down. Tendrils of slippery green hair pulled the wisps of his fleeting soul into the fury of the waters, there would be no escape. Not for his body. Not for his ego. Not for the whisper that came from his heart. His hands reached to the surface, he could see the blue of the sky in the distance, he could almost feel the sunshine of the day, but the seaweed pulled tighter on his legs and the last of his breath was gone.
He lay on his hammock, imagining his death in such detail that his body had begun to react. His palms were sweaty, his heart thumped laboriously, he managed a weak smile, but palpable fear still clung to him like imagined seaweed.
He had the nagging sensation of helplessness, it always made him remember the fat white woman in red shorts and the oversized white T-shirt that draped her shoulders. Sixteen years ago she had walked among the white crested waves, walking slowly as each foot sunk into the crumbly sand. It was her presence that he remembered, the fleeting glimpse of a woman… he watched… as her shape became smaller and smaller. She was not very pretty, she might have been once, but life had made her into a fat tourist, into one of many who crowded the shores and dotted the exuberance of the water with a drop of middle America. But still, although she was perfumed by consumption and betrayal, he noticed her, out of all the others that came in shorts that exposed their varicose veins and white legs that jiggled with every breath, he noticed her. And it was her body that later showed up on the same shore, bloated and even whiter than he remembered. He had seen her breathing and six hours later, he had seen her dead. It was she, even though he had spent a thousand lifetimes in the water, it was she who taught him to respect the strangeness of the waters. He had thought it before. He had thought he believed it before. But it was only with the vision of the bloated woman that he truly learned the lesson. Without a word, she had taught him. The waters were like a seven sword wielding bandit crawling in the night, a force to love and admire, a threat to respect and fear.
The world’s largest waves crashed to life on the rocks by his home, his home that existed between two skinny palm trees that aimed for the sun and bore no fruit as a sacrifice to their god. The dingy hammock was his bed, chair, and sofa. It was his dresser and meditation spot. The accumulation of his knowledge and possessions hovered between the two trees, and like the trees, he swung alone, without a coconut for company.
He had chosen the small spot between the trees to be closer to the cave of flowers. From his hammock by the water, he could see the black mouth of the cave, and although he could not see it with his eyes, he knew that the fragrant red flowers grew beside its black gaping mouth, there and there alone. And although he could only imagine it, he new a small group of women journeyed daily to gather the red offerings of the soil and work within the depths of the cool cave.
The women of red flowers were the most sacred of treasures that the island bore. Every woman here adorned her hair with flowers; pink and yellow and white, the flowers rested in their black hair like jewels upon velvet. Soft shades of perfumed petals opened up to deep shades of yellow in the center, where their sex stood out to the waiting bee, calling it, teasing it, begging it to come, nature herself naked, her legs wide open and full of yellow life. The waiting whore, exposed and unashamed, just waiting. Waiting to give, waiting to be taken.
But the women could not be taken this way, at least not the ones who wore red. And while all the women on the island were beautiful with long black hair that shined even in the moonlight, and although they were all lighthearted and playful and a delight to every sense, the women with red flowers bore something else. They held the image of the fire, they held the sacred rites of the ancestors in their thighs, these women, these precious few women were closer to the source. By divinity, by birth, by the love of the moon, theirs was a magic source. Whether in this lifetime or the thousands before, they carried something that he could not shake, it held him. He could not begin to understand, that he knew with confidence. He was the grayest rock on the path of their greatness, if he could be their servant, if he could die for their ability to continue, he would take his last step, his last breath, ride his last wave.
The day was hot and sticky and the thick scent of flowers came to him on the light wind. Journeying from the cave high in the distance, it slithered down the mountain and wrapped around the trees and filled his nose like a snake of sweetness. It entered him and his eyes closed with heaviness. He sunk deep into his hammock, imagining it was the liquid arms of the ocean. His ears heard crashing waves and his hands reached for the tendrils of seaweed that held him and his mouth, which opened for a breath, was filled with rushing white foam.