Clicksqueal had once had a mother who much resembled her: brown skin, long, spindly limbs, shiny black hair framing a round face. But at the age of twelve, Clicksqueal had no idea where that mother was, nor did she care to find out. The humans belonged on the land with the piles of garbage and clouds of smoke, and Clicksqueal belonged with her mother, the sea.
When Clicksqueal was a baby, she lived with a pod of dolphins. Every moment she was surrounded by the chatter and playful flipper-slapping of her family. As she grew older, the dolphins died away one by one, sinking into the abyss to be devoured by the unknown creatures of the dark. By the time Clicksqueal was twelve, only her fast friend Bubblie remained, and the cetacean was very ill.
“Go back to the humans,” Bubblie urged Clicksqueal as the girl struggled to catch fish in the shallows for the two to share. “They’ll take care of you. You’re one of their own.”
Clicksqueal shook her head vehemently. “I was left on the beach for a reason. The humans don’t want me, and the ocean does.”
Seagulls appeared in the green sky. They descended upon Bubblie and began nibbling at the still-wheezing dolphin’s blue-gray flesh.
Clicksqueal tried to shoo the birds away with her hands, but they ignored her threatening motions. Soon a cocoon of seabirds surrounded her friend. She watched for hours, unable to tear her eyes away from the scene. When the cocoon slowly fluttered away, all that remained was a clean skeleton. Finally, the girl screamed. The sound echoed across the empty beach.
Like a tender maid, the sea sent a softly sweeping wave to remove the grinning skeleton from the sand at Clicksqueal’s feet. When the next wave gently kissed the shore, Clicksqueal took some of the salty water in her hands and splashed it in her face. Instead of the comfort she was expecting, her skin began to burn as if enveloped by lightning.
Clicksqueal sighed and gazed out across the ocean. Her mother had become progressively more purple in color over the years, and now she took the hue of the poisonous berries that grew by the shore: cold like a fire doused in wine.
“I’m so sorry, Mother,” Clicksqueal whispered. “I’m sorry for what the humans did to you.”
To the girl’s surprise, the ocean spoke back to her. “I’m sorry too, my daughter,” she replied, in a voice melodious as an ancient lyre and sibilant as the crashing waves. “I’m sorry I failed to protect your friends. And I’m sorry that I will have to include you, my innocent angel, in the cleansing of this planet.”
Before Clicksqueal could request clarification, a giant wave was born in the open ocean. It swiftly charged toward the beach, blocking the sun. Clicksqueal knew it was hopeless to run, so she allowed her body to be reunited with its creator, hoping that, if there was an afterlife, she would meet Bubblie in it and they would always be wrapped in their mother’s embrace.
The wave didn’t stop with the twelve-year-old girl. It continued up the mountains of trash and into the human cities. It covered the globe like a blanket being tucked over a dreaming child, and the people and animals struck by the poisonous, vengeful water instantly fell like raindrops into the liquid that covered each tiny continent. Soon, from outer space, the other planets saw Earth as a violet ball.
That era is done with, Mother Ocean told herself. Let the next era begin in purity. Already, in the womb of the deep, microscopic creatures were stirring, multiplying, growing as they fed off the nutritious carcass of young Clicksqueal. The joy of motherhood washed over the sea, making her violet waters slowly brighten to sapphire blue. And the stars, watching from outside Earth’s atmosphere, knew that new children would soon play throughout the universe.
Image credits in order of appearance:
“A Study in bronze I by Frederick Monsen” by Monsen, Frederick, 1865-1929, photographer. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c01158.Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Study_in_bronze_I_by_Frederick_Monsen.jpg#/media/File:A_Study_in_bronze_I_by_Frederick_Monsen.jpg
“Santa Monica beach clouds”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Monica_beach_clouds.jpg#/media/File:Santa_Monica_beach_clouds.jpg
“Cyclone Friedhelm, Inverclyde 2” by easylocum – Flickr: Winter Storm 1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyclone_Friedhelm,_Inverclyde_2.jpeg#/media/File:Cyclone_Friedhelm,_Inverclyde_2.jpeg
By James Lee from Chester, NH, USA (2010 08 13 star trail) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons