Emerald Naylor

Walk off the Edge
Emerald Naylor

Creative non-fiction is one of my favourite art forms. It’s a way for me to try to write down my thoughts in a way that is entertaining to read without having to be poetic.

I’ve never lived by the sea, but I’ve always been attracted to the water. For years I have been trying to capture that feeling I get when walking along the shore. The best way to describe it is as an overwhelming fear of the sea, the unknown, the dangers, and everything below the surface, but also this crushing desire to run out and join the sea; to become one with it and let it wash all my worries away.

When I walked along the shore for this assignment it was a mild, but very windy, day. I wasn’t in the best mindset; I had a lot of lingering fears and anxieties about the prior week and the week ahead. Yet when I walked to the Charlottetown Harbour and realized just how close I could get to the water, I felt at ease.

The following piece may not be the happiest thing in the world. It certainly won’t be everyone’s experience when walking along the shore, but it’s what I felt in that moment. I truly do love the water and would love it if mermaids really exist so I could become one to live within the sea. I am also aware of the dangers of the sea. I hope this piece gets across that inner turmoil between love and fear, and shows the peace that the water brings me.

The wind whips behind me, but no one is around. It’s so empty down here – different from the bustling nature of the summer and early fall.

I move further away from the city, leaving the noise behind; I step closer to the water, closing in on its calming lull.

There’s a wooden dock shooting straight out towards the sea.

Should I be here?

I step on the dock, waiting for someone to shout at me to get off. No one comes. I walk right out to the edge.

I could slip into the water.

Just lower myself off the edge and slip in between the pieces of ice. If it was warmer, I’d dip my feet in. If it was colder, I’d test a step on the ice. But it is neither, and both at the same time. Large chunks of ice, coated in their red dusting, are broken up among the rocks. Everything here is red. There’s a small space of unfrozen sea, and then a sheet of smooth ice.The wind sends the rain skating across the smooth ice.

I want to jump in.

I won’t.I’m not sure how long I’ve sat here: listening to the wind, thinking of how sharp the ice must be, sitting in peace.

The water – it’s always been enticing. But here, in its half frozen state, I can see the danger too.

I find myself being at once a thalassomaniac and overcome with a wave of thalassophobia.

I want to immerse myself in the sea. I want to bask in all the peace and calm it offers. I want to capture this feeling of quiet that I feel at water’s edge and carry it in me. I want to feel the water on my skin; the waves a cool embrace.

I know the dangers, too. The unknown that lurks below its surface. I could freeze in the water today; a numbing squeeze rather than a silky hug. Jagged pieces of ice that could impale me with one strong gust of wind.

I slowly stand up from my spot on the edge of the dock. One last look out at the water – one last moment of quiet before I turn towards the city and my anxieties come crashing back.

The biggest danger of all is the lure – the pull to the sea; its welcome. The whisper, “Join us. Just one more step.”