Seems like drowning oneself is harder than it looks.
Embarrassing, really, as worried Bahamians attempt to haul me out of the Caribbean Sea into their rusty tugboat in response to the cruise ship’s clarion call.
I feel my earlobes and note one of my diamond earrings is missing, lost to the depths. A treasure for a lucky scuba diver to find one day.
The earrings had been an anniversary gift. And not worth much now, I mutter out loud.
My rescuers look at me, but we cannot understand each other very well. Their Creole dialect is thick. One of them, whom I call Poseidon, throws me a flotation device, as I unhappily bob in the warm water.
Rude of him to interrupt. I just kick the ring buoy away. I sing, while water fills my mouth. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy.
The Bahamians jump in and attempt to roll me into a life sling, causing me to curse their mothers. Angrily, they just grab me underneath my armpits, and I am glad I shaved them before the party. But this isn’t their concern. I am just fine.
I can hear our cruise ship from not too far away continuing to call a Code Oscar, lights sweeping the dark waters where I decided to go in.
Man overboard, I call back to the ship. I am not a man. My husband was a man.
The Bahamians unceremoniously hoist me up in a basket. Poseidon holds one of my wrists in case I try to go anywhere. It is hard to lug 120 pounds of anything, let alone an angry woman.
“What is your name?” Poseidon asks.
I am Aphrodite, I say triumphantly. Daughter of Uranus, the primordial god of the sky. Born when Cronus threw his castrated genitals into the sea. Here I am, Aphrodite! The Goddess of Love!
I can hear the Bahamians whisper that I am drunk. They are right.
No, seriously, guys. I’m descended from Uranus, right up there . . . I pointed at the night sky. Patronizingly, the Bahamian rescue crew looks up to where I’m pointing, if only to keep the crazy lady quiet.
Uranus is the green dot to the left of Mars. I’m not talking about your anus, gentlemen. I laugh again, self-indulgently. That would be unseemly. I’m talking about Uranus the god. The stars are full of gods!
Almost on cue, the shoulder strap on my elegant dress falls down, exposing more of myself than I want. I hoist the mainsail as we are ready to weigh anchor. I feel for the earlobe with the missing earring. It’s still missing.
The Bahamians secretively talk amongst themselves and decide to wrap a mylar thermal blanket around me. I am so shiny and pretty.
One talks on a two-way radio. I don’t understand his patois, but everyone seems relieved. I nod with them in the general spirit of bonhomie.
The boat ride back to the dock will not take long. Getting back on the ship and explaining what happened to me may take longer. Explaining myself to my soon-to-be-ex-husband will be the longest.
I do not want to talk to him. Him.
Just the thought of doing so makes me want to jump back into the warm waters. So peaceful down there. I was actually quite happy down in the drink. God knows I’d downed many drinks to summon the nerve to go down in the drink. But my being buried for a bit in the silvery sea brought me a soupçon of happiness.
How long has that been, my authentically feeling happy? Maybe my husband is right after all. We all have to do what we have to do to be happy, right? No matter what that changes. Who that changes.
Galateia must live here, I say to the Bahamians, who try not to look in my direction. But I’m lonely all of a sudden and want them to talk to me. Galateia is the goddess of calm seas. If you come to New York City, I’ll take you to the Met—it’s a really big art museum. Galateia is painted riding side-saddle on the back of a sea monster. Very ladylike. Not like a man. Men ride astride things. It’s just what men do . . . or used to do.
They finally look at me with their unblinking eyes, night shrouding any expression I could read. We sit in companionable silence.
“You safe, now,” Poseidon says.
I was pretty safe in the water, I correct him. Like Odysseus fighting off the Scylla and Charybdis. That was me! Literally between a rock and a hard place, assuming the rock is a monster with six heads and the hard place is a man-eating whirlpool. I didn’t have wax to block my ears. The sea called to me, to join the sirens.
“You could have tied yourself to the mast,” Poseidon replies, smiling.
You’ve read the Odyssey?
“I’ve also been to the Met,” he adds, smiling a bit to take the sting out of his words.
Even in my drunken and half-drowned state, I feel ashamed. He can read it on my face.
“Been a tough day for all of us,” Poseidon says.
You got that right, I mutter.
“Why did you fall off the boat,” Poseidon carefully asks.
No one falls off cruise ships.
“I know that,” he replies.
We both look at the tugboat’s wake as it steadily makes its way to the dock.
Are there sea creatures out there? Maybe way out in the deep?
“I don’t know that,” he replies.
I think there are. Strange creatures who are not as they appear. Like ichthyocentaurs.
“I don’t know what that is,” he says, shaking his head.
They’re fish centaurs. Upper body of a man. Tail of a fish. Two creatures all combined together . . .
“None of that lives around here,” he states firmly.
There’s at least one on that boat, I say, pointing to the cruise ship.
Poseidon quit speaking for a moment, gazing up at the black night, dotted with stars.
My husband is a mythological creature. He wants to stay married to me, but he doesn’t want to be a man anymore. I always wondered why my high heels were so stretched out. I laugh.
It’s almost too bitter to be considered a laugh.
“Crab says he does not trust any shadow after dark,” Poseidon remarks. His crew murmurs their approval.
I don’t know what that means, I reply. Tears begin to stream down my face.
“Trust the gods in the stars,” Poseidon explains, pointing at the dazzling night sky, constellations arrayed in reassuring patterns.