All tears swim back to this notebook, where my words slowly drip, drip onto the page, leaving wrinkles and smudged ink on the lined ocean. I cling to my pencil, arms wrapped around the barrel, and hold my breath as each massive wave looms over my head, threatening to swallow me and my lurching buoy.

Take me back to the ocean, I cry, my voice echoing with my own sobs. I want to be far away from the land. Give me blue-green, limitless depths of floating dreams and dust blown off from the peripheral of my mind, flecks and particles of potential all drifting with the current…

Let me ride with the dolphin, I barely gasp as I sink beneath the liquid mirror. Choking, unpleasant sensation, the icy water rushes up my nose, freezing my brain. My eyes roll into the back of my head, only the whites showing below my lids. With one straining, weakened arm, I reach for everything, anything, and nothing.

Under pressure, my heart wrenches free of this cold flesh and left the trail of torn, frayed skin and unleashed organs undulating freely in the water, like bloody seaweed polluting oceans pure with some pungent, purple ink. The fish dart and snap and nibble at it relentlessly. The pulsing, thumping organ descends into the opaque abyss.

My pale shaking hand reaches out for the swaying line of intestine left floating before me. As in some myopic dream, I grasp it, squeeze it, urging more of the beautiful fluid to ooze into the water, giggling as the fish gather near me to devour the vulnerable excretions of my existence. Hovering in this liquid vacuum, I slip into torpor.

*

Puffy swollen eyes, throbbing headache, congested nose, my naked breasts splayed over the slipper gray surface of my savior, and I smile, not really knowing who or what it is. My tired, aching arms lie like noodles over its fins. I imagine I am dead, meaningless mass.

Is this yours?

I look up weakly, trying to distinguish what it was with my blurry vision.

You gave this gem to the ocean. Now, the ocean returns it to you.

A single, cloudy tear drips down my cheek.

Here, I whisper, offering it to the warm, embracing mouth. I can't imagine a world without it.

The sound of noshing. I moan, loudly. I weep and let my tears spill into the ocean, once more, swimming farther and farther away from the shore, until I reach the centers of the universe – a limb on a chunk of ice, a hair on the foamy crest, my heart in the dolphin's belly – and there, I realize, when others' songs echo back to me and our tears softly pool, that I am found. Heard. Loved. Sung.

Never silenced.

*

Epilogue:

Even when the shores try to steal it,

One echo ripples in the water.

It travels with every current

Through reefs and bergs

Fish mouths, whale songs, and seaweed jungles

It crashes with the perilous storms,

And lazes on still waters

Underneath a piercing sun

But it never goes away.

Seen or unseen

Heard or unheard

A voice makes a difference