I watched it rip itself from the bottom and float to the surface one marine-foggy day. The amber bulbs floated as buoys for the stalk and leaves that followed the ascent. It was a longish piece from the fringe of the bed of kelp, and it seemed to writhe and struggle against the waves until it could snap its base and untangle itself from the roots which had affixed it to the clump of mud that had been loitering next to an old watch and a bottle of something empty; but the label had come off, and I do not know what substance had lingered within until it had inebriated its posses- sor enough to let it escape beneath the waves, as well.
I let some breath release from my lungs and I followed the piece of kelp, a little sorry for
having to breathe at all, and leaving the reticent peace. My yellow and green fins stirred up some sand on the way up, raising some detached seagrass so a few got tangled on my legs and came along for a free ride. When I got to the surface my mask was a little foggy anyway, so I was able to take it off and spit in it again to keep the mist from collecting. There was a little more foam floating around me than when I first went down, and I figured it was due to the winds picking up and churning the waters a little bit more. I looked back to the shore looking for beach flags to see if I was right: which I was. The lifeguards’ pole had a hysterical fabric orange cone attached to the top, as if struggling to break free and warn us all of what it sees looming on the horizon,
that only it can see from that vantage point.
The kelp I had followed was floating next to me, some of it draping down the wave it trembled on. It had trapped some of the mocha foam in circulets of stem it had looped in the water, creat- ing little hills of salty fluff. I didn’t feel like I was moving, except for the motion of the ocean breathing, raising and lowering me in a gentle lull; yet, when I looked back to see if the orange cone had finally gotten its wish, I saw the towel I had laid down on a mound of sand was much smaller than a few minutes previous. I kissed an amber bulb and wished the kelp the best of fates as it drifted away from us, and decided my own fate would not fare as well if I drifted towards the horizon, so I paddled my fins and headed back to the shore. There was still a few long,
dark green strands of seagrass wrapped around me for good luck. I let them come along: who was I to interrupt the destiny of seagrass?
The wind had indeed picked up and it roared in my cold ears. In my trek back, I could only rel- ish with the memory of watching that piece of kelp furiously snap itself and drift away, by itself. It didn’t mind the hills of foam that it collected, nor the slight wilting some of its leaves suc- cumbed to by surfacing.
I swam on my back and watched it float in the direction of the sun.