“I was pressed against a great expanse.” An underwater river.

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From the age of ten I was allowed to swim on my own in Navy Mass. The cold water shocked me and soothed me and took my mind off it. I would enter the water and lay back and drift away with my eyes closed. I then stumbled back down the rocky shore, my feet blue and numb from the cold. I sat with a towel around me, shivering, head on my knees. As I drained the water from my ears, the sound of traffic returned. I didn’t want to go home, and it took a long time to convince myself to get up again. As I lost weight, the stones pressed against my thin soles, and every time I left the beach, I told myself that all I had to do was put those stones in my pockets and get out into the water and I’d never have to go. will Home again.

It was an effective fantasy; I was able to move on because I knew I didn’t have to. Each time I swam a little further, the rocks cut deeper into my feet as I returned to shore. One afternoon in early fall I felt particularly hopeless. I saw no realistic escape from the situation with Jarrett and I lived in constant fear of him. Storm clouds were approaching and the coast was deserted. I felt a dangerous influence, the freedom to ignore my own safety, and I went into the water, a smile on my face. The water burned me, sending a shocking energy through my body. It was very cold. When I reached the point where my shoulders sank, my chest began to ache and I swallowed mouthfuls of bitter water, and very faintly, as if far away, I felt that I was about to give way. I am

I dove under the water, eyes open, pressed down and out to the bottom. It was only a few meters deep, but I felt like I was tunneling further, that I had entered a chasm and was swimming into a new area, a secret chamber of my own. The water was cloudy from the movement of my limbs, but when I stopped I could suddenly see everything very clearly. The large rocks on the river bed are full of insects, sponges, lichens and lichens. Beyond them floated green and purple river breezes. Nothing made a faint sound. No ringing in my ears from the pressure of the water, no chattering voices competing in my head. I looked up at the scene, suspended horizontally, suspended below the surface, no more movement to cloud my vision, and as if out of nowhere I realized, suddenly, with admiration, that everything around me The thing is alive.

There was no space separating my body from the living world. I was pressed against a vast expanse, every cubic millimeter of water filled with living things. These creatures were so small that I could not see them, but somehow I felt their presence, their community, all around me. I did not see through the water by the Life, I saw live I Water life, a vast patchwork supporting my body, seeping into my nostrils, my ears, the tiny cracks and crevices in my skin, swirling through my hair and entering the very eyes that see it. had seen In what felt like minutes, but must have been only seconds, I saw an entirely different world, a place of importance and complexity, an almost infinite number of independent living beings floating like a web in the middle, every little thing. Along with the changeling drew untold creatures. And the disorder of my body.

Quoted from In Ascension by Martin McInnes, published by Atlantic Books. In Ascension The New Scientist is the latest book club selection. Sign up and read with us Here