Zanzibar

The scarred wooden hull split the turquoise saltwater easily. Sea salt and distant coconut rushed through the air, creating a heady mix for those in the motor powered canoe. Below them, the white sand of the beaches fell away beneath the ocean’s press, and amethyst sea urchins congregated in bristled clumps, their delicate spines moved by unseen currents. The boat’s wake deflected the sun and churned up dazzling rainbows behind them.

The captain slowed their progress, and they bobbed on the waves. Elsie was dizzy with anticipation, with the motion of the wooden craft, and she leaned out over the edge of the boat, eyes flitting from shade to shadow. Others in the boat were fitting their snorkeling gear, looking like gangly, giant bugs, but Elsie did not want to miss her first glimpse.

“There!”

She pointed, heart pounding in her temples and her head spinning. Smooth, dark gray dorsal fins punched up through the water, moving towards them swiftly.

Elsie did not know how she found herself in the water, but as she arched and rolled about in the midst of the pod, her emotions felt so expansive that she thought she would explode from sensation. As they swam, she sensed warm and cold water as they moved through shallow and deep stretches of ocean. The dolphins teased, swimming just out of reach, and when Elsie was forced to surface for lack of air, she was giddy—shaking and giggling uncontrollably. She tried to climb back into the boat with uncooperative hands and feet and fell back into the ocean with a splash.

Later, when they piled back into the boat for their return, Elsie glowed. Cheeks pink from excitement and sunshine, eyes shining, she ate a mango and thought it the best food she had ever eaten. The flesh was smooth and aromatic—each bite sweet and perfumed—and the skin of the fruit was salty from exposure. She could not stop smiling.

*****

Like last Monday’s post, this was also an assignment. The goal was to create a scene with poetic inebriation, that is, to write about the feeling of drunkenness on something other than alcohol.

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