by Amanda Ackerman
Oh my dear ones: the snow in the underwater city. The snow, formed from seawater, the way it fell on the coral beds. We shoveled the water. You should have seen it because I cannot describe it. Even if I were to tell you the story it would not matter because we live when all stories compete with each other for dominance and attention. We live when all jobs are as tedious and repetitious as all other jobs despite differences in earnings and position. They lured us out of the underwater city with promises of food and work. Powerful incentives. I did not want to leave but you are in trouble if you cannot function in the present day even if you are asked to give up too much. Blood. Culture. Genealogy. Beliefs. Snow made of seawater falling on a “shifting mosaic” of corals and sea plants. In the underwater city we played instruments resembling harps and clapper sticks. I promised I would not describe this. Now I am very conscious of myself as a person and see myself as that principally. We began to divide our time between land and sea. We stopped using our bodies the way they were meant. The sea beds were erupting crags the plumes of see-through jellyfish: no I promised I wouldn’t. There is always the story of how we came to reside in this particular place. Of course we split. It was like scraping cells out of one’s own body. It became impossible to get to the beach to fish. After a day of regulated repetitive work we would order takeout and go down to the river to eat it. I did not mind being hungry. Actually I kind of liked it. Feuding, trespassing, poaching, warring. There were new settlements. I never divorced her: she simply disappeared. We wouldn’t have qualified for a divorce anyways with these new laws. To justify a divorce a woman needed to be barren or an adulterer and a man had to be abusive or fail to support his family. I became a craftsman. I joined a guild. Nature is cruel. We can’t be too romantic about nature. But I did believe there was a moral order to the universe. If there are two conflicting stories – you have to find the balance between them. Better to survive in the world. Better to survive even in these new emerging economies. Better to learn how to speak the language so we can tell you. I became a food writer. I liked to preview a menu in advance. I didn’t like surprises. We lived in a time when we could look anything up. Just the other day I needed to know what “samphire” is [it’s a salty tasting garnish usually growing along the British coast]. This is a story that has multiplied thousands of times over the past century. More billowing proclamations. The sun went down – and on this particular evening I decided to walk home from work instead take the rail. Had I become ugly? Had it been too long since anyone told me I wasn’t? Was that it for me?