There’s an island in the middle of what we’d call the Atlantic where a colony of people lives, undiscovered and unaware of a world beyond the waters.
Is it so hard to imagine that they’d believe the sky above infinitely out of reach, the soil below infinitely deep, the ocean in all its vastness, the entirety of the world past their island?
Big waves crash. Sometimes everyone gets wet. Sometimes everything is destroyed. They see this as a cleansing, not because they did something wrong, but because it was time for something new. So, they build different shelters, different formations.
To watch the sunset is to attend their church. And those days when the clouds obscure the sun? When they can’t make out more than slivers of pink and orange between blue-gray clouds? These are the sad days. They imagine mythologies that could fill tomes if anyone thought to write them down. Stories that might become an oral tradition if anyone thought to speak them.
And maybe one day a boat will come or a satellite feed will expose the island. Maybe the people will be overrun, maybe attacked, maybe offered some charity. Maybe some will venture to a mainland from there. Whatever the case, nothing will be the same.
A girl stands at the edge today. She smells sea. She tastes salt. She squints her eyes and watches sunbeams dance across rippling waves, like the fireworks she’s never seen and has no words for. Her story is best of all. Shorter than most, but more beautiful for the repetition. For the girl she imagines a world away, somewhere beyond the waters, standing in a foreign land no one else on the island would believe exists.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York, and his hybrid chapbook, The Leo Burke Finish, is available now from Gimmick Press. He won Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North and Hobart. He works as a contributing editor for Moss.Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.