I am afraid of the ocean since I can remember. They call it Thalassophobia.
My parents told me it started when I was a child. They would tease me that there were monsters in the salty waters just across our rural house. My older brother would start mimicking squishy noises once our parents switch off the lights.
But I am smart, my mother told me so. And I don’t believe them just like when they told me that if I don’t eat my vegetables, bad men will come and get me. They know that as I leave out my vegetables all the time.
Its not because of the monsters.
But the ocean itself.
You see, once my parents see how much I beg and pleaded to be left behind every time they take a swim, they’ve made great attempts to make me overcome my fear.
They would give soothing words, said sorry for all the teasing they have been doing and telling me there are no monsters. They’ve bought me gifts, even my brother stopped mimicking the squishy noises.
One day my mother made a breakthrough and held my hand while we walk towards the sea. I stopped crying and thought I should let them be happy for once.
I ignored the dread slowly building up inside me as we walked on.
We made it to the shore where the wave kisses you toes and sings the lullaby.
I looked up and saw my mother with joyful tears. “You’re doing a good job, honey,” she kisses my forehead.
“Now try to touch the water,” she said and bent down, telling me to copy her.
I heard my heart beating loudly and my throat going dry. I wanted to plead mommy to take me home but she looks lovely in her smile.
I bent my knees and touch the water. I felt the fear knocked me down like a tsunami wave as I lose my consciousness.
That was 10 years ago and I never went back to the ocean.
My dad passed away last year. We never found the body. My mother said he drowned while fishing when the storm raged in but I knew better.
Mom is now bed ridden without any sign of sickness. I presume it was due to depression that she had been trying to hide since we lost dad. She refused to get up but still manages to eat.
My older brother lives very far away with his own family in the city. He refused to go back, I don’t know why.
I woke up in the middle of the night. I remember I was awaken by the sound of waves. I checked my mother’s side and she was not there. I looked everywhere and I could not find her.
I have no choice but to check the back, where the ocean is.
“Mom?,” I called out. The ocean is loud tonight, big waves. “MOM?,” I called louder.
I feel the waves in my toes. Like a switch turned on, the memory came back.
There were no monsters, it is only the ocean.
I bent down and touch the water, I heard it.
The ocean calling me with the hundred voices it has.
Now it got both my parents’ voices as it calls me.
I remember now why I am afraid.
You know why you wanted to go to the beach during summer? Or why you suddenly wanted to take a walk and watch the sunset?
It calls you with a voice not there.
But it calls me louder than any voice I can hear.
I don’t have to go. I don’t have to.
Now I need to call my brother.