Living under the ocean meant that Olivia Granger didn’t have the same problems most other people had. It meant that she faced a vastly different set of issues and situations on a daily basis. During her first few days away from the land, for example, Olivia had made the mistake of choosing a single underwater cave to be her home, intending to dedicate her free time to decorating her new home. The jagged rocks on the inside of the cave created the perfect natural hooks from which to hang any trinkets she found in her adventures. Staying still was never a good idea in a world filled with predators lurking behind every dark shadow, so Olivia now thought it best to change caves every other day; dashing her hopes of being able to create a sanctuary to which she could return every night.
Olivia’s lungs carried a memory of the constant pain associated with learning to breathe underwater and, although her eyes worked tirelessly over the years, they were still showing signs that they were adjusting to the darkness beneath the murky depths. Food was extremely scarce. At least, that’s what Olivia told herself following a sequence of failed attempts to catch anything resonating with her own personal definition of food. The obvious solution of redefining what food meant, how it should taste and where you should find it, took over a week to surface in her mind and another two days before it was ready to be turned into action. Olivia was now finding food everywhere and, in her quest to not waste any time underwater, she was beginning to combine different flavours to create meals worthy of being baulked at not so long ago.
There wasn’t a night time anymore. At least, there was no clear way of telling when the sun was up and when the sun was down. Depending on where Olivia ended up during the day, she may occasionally catch glimpses of light towards the surface of the water, but, now, days and nights were measured by observing which sea creatures were asleep and who was awake. When the grey sharks with the pointy noses began emerging from the hidden caves beneath the underwater boulders, it was time for Olivia to find her cave and attempt to get a sound night’s sleep. Seasons were measured by sensing subtle changes in the temperatures in various bodies of water as well as through observing the direction of travel of some of the more intrepid sea creatures. Olivia had come to accept that there was no such thing as a positive change under water, so, even when the sharks swam overhead in immense numbers looking for a change in environment, Olivia knew that this meant the jellyfish were on their way. There was no respite underwater. No opportunities to relax. No time to waste. And, for these reasons, Olivia loved being here.
Just as it took Olivia’s body time to adapt and accept all of the changes, so, too, did it take her mind time to realise that the ocean had not given her what she wanted, it had given her what she needed. The land had provided her with a world of distraction, while the ocean provided her with opportunities to discover what was truly important by forcing her to remain focused on survival. Olivia had left the land behind in the hopes of falling in love and finding peace, but that is not how the ocean operates. The ocean may seem cruel. It may even seem indifferent and callous, but that does not mean that it should be avoided. By diving beneath its turbulent surface and swimming amongst its menacing depths, Olivia found a different type of happiness, set apart by the shifting of the tides and all the more affected by the movement of the earth above.
Down here, she was free. Up there, Olivia was unable to breathe.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.