She stood at the end of the upper deck of the ship....a lone figure in the night, gripping the railing, and her hair tossing wildly in the wind. Unmindful of the storm that was gathering momentum and the rains which now came in torrents. She could have been in a trance, for all the disregard she showed at the raging forces around her.

She had bought this ticket for a voyage out of the city....her escape from the desperation and the emptiness she felt after saying goodbye to a relationship that everyone thought was an "impossible embrace".. Against the backdrop of old familiar places, perhaps she could find again some kind of existence. To be home once more might bring some healing......recapture her inner core of peace.

But now she was not so sure. The churning waters looked so inviting ...She stared at it in hypnotic fascination.. She imagined herself being carried by it, like a child rocking in a cradle. What if there really was a city living beneath the ocean? She closed her eyes, letting herself sway with the wind. Wouldn't it be fun to explore and discover Atlantis for herself?

If she spread her arms like a bird in flight, would the wind carry her out... up... then to let fall into the open waves? What better place to bury smoke-dreams and worn-out hopes than into the depths below ?

But someone was calling out to her, breaking her reverie. And a sudden lurch of the ship told her she was not riding a mental roller-coaster. The storm was REAL - the winds were not all in her fancy! But how easy would it have been to let go of the railing. If not for that voice again - insistent, almost angry - she was all set to fly off with the wind...IT SEEMED TODAY WAS NOT SUCH A GREAT DAY TO DIE, AFTER ALL.!

Another great lash of wind came on and she felt the ship rolling slowly on one side - like an awkward clumsy elephant doing a circus trick. ..As if on cue, the ship's lights went out She could feel herself being tossed around the deck's floor. On impulse, she clutched at anything her hands could touch - were these bodies and arms and legs? Then more voices and shouting. Confusion and panic . In vain , she thrust her arms to stop the mass of humanity and rolling objects from being thrown against her. .

Why didn't the ship roll back into its original state? Could they be sinking? The rushing tide of waters were all smothering everything now. This must be a nightmare and she was in a time capsule being carried in slow motion into another world and space...Surely her wishful thinking only minutes ago was not coming true? Was she really going down to find her Atlantis city and forget the world above it?

The shock of cold waters immersing her body woke up her mind again. So, should she even struggle? But nothing could stop the current that plunged her deeper and deeper into the dark ocean floor. Then she felt arms pulling her ...carrying her back up and up...And just when she thought her lungs would explode, she reached surface...Everything was still dark...who was this person who still held her...And a man's voice spoke. This was no ghost or angel, after all...

She wondered what really happened to the ship and everybody else....but she had to muster all her strength to fight the angry waves which continued to beat against her. Even the waters felt slimy with some kind of sticky oil. And so they tossed about with no direction....until she felt numb and remembered no more......

Slivers of light coming from the first streaks of dawn brought back her senses. ...This was not Atlantis beneath the sea! Befuddled and disoriented, she looked around to find herself in a lifeboat loaded with people. A child beside her was crying out for her mother. Child, she thought, why am I here? Gladly would I have changed places with your mother!

Clearly, TODAY WAS NOT SUCH A GREAT DAY TO DIE, AFTER ALL.! Clearly, the gift of life was not even hers to give ....or take...

.............................©Jotte: October 3, 1998

(P.S. from Jotte: Last month, September 1998, a passenger ship , one of the biggest in the Philippines, sank during a stormy voyage. Initial investigations have shown that its big container van cargoes broke loose , bringing the ship off-balance. Out of over 400 passengers, only a little above 100 survived this sea ordeal...The above writing is only a fictional character, but could possibly have happened to any one of the survivors.)

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