Friday, May 10, 2013

"Cerulean" by Anna Kyss (Novella)

Genre:  Young Adult Dystopian 

Type of Short Story:  Novella

Summary:  One hundred years ago, people were forced to retreat to the seas...
Chey's ocean home seems lovely on the outside, with its rainbow-hued reefs and soul-tingling Whale-song, but the beauty hides secrets and despair.

One thousand blues can be too many...
Some people cannot live amid them all.

After losing her parents and best friend, Chey would do anything to fight off the apathy that threatens her: swim in a brood of jellies, break her sector's rules, and even breach the Surface. A forbidden encounter sets Chey on a desperate search for a way to save her people... and herself. One question plagues her. Can she survive long enough to find a cure?


I propel myself through the turquoise waters with undulations of my tail. No one has seen me. Luckily. Leaving Maluhia alone is forbidden.

My heart races from the danger, the exertion, the excitement. I revel in the blood flowing through my veins, the adrenaline pumping through my body—I feel alive. Daring. Elated.

If only I could suck up these feelings, bottle and save them for later, when the apathy rushes back in; for now, I absorb them. I have to make myself feel. The price for indifference could be my life.

A reef sits in front of me, one of the few remaining in our sector of the seas. The yellows, reds, and oranges of the ever-growing coral contrast with the ocean blue that bathes them. The pink and white tentacles of the anemones await their orange-and-white-striped friends—clown fish.

My classes have taught about this funny word, clown; once upon a time, people dressed in costumes and painted their faces to create laughter. I try to imagine it: a world where clothes and words are enough to make people grin. In my world, all the Skin and languages together are not enough to make us smile. My people do not laugh anymore.

A purple-and-white-striped eel pokes its head from the rocks, peers around, then darts away. He startles the groups of fish, and they swim straight toward me. A rainbow of fins and glittery scales swarms around me.

Rainbow—another of those curious words from my lessons. I try to picture those colors, imagine a sky, but it is too hard. In this world of a thousand blues, the reef is the only place to spot a rainbow.

Memories always draw me back to this spot, despite the threat of discovery. My best friend’s name was Rainbow, but a thousand blues can be too many. In our underwater world, happiness dissolves into the waters, while detachment and lethargy seep in.

With ’Bow, her smile left before she lost the last of her baby teeth. By the time she received her flipper-fins, she no longer wanted to play, and she stopped coming to the daily swims. Soon, she never left her family pod. Hopelessness crushed her, and she did the Unmentionable.

Sorrow fills the hollow left by our abandoned friendship, bringing up memories of others who are missing. My mother. My father. Gloom weighs me down.

Blinking back the tears that threaten to escape, I will myself to shake the negative thoughts from my head, then open my eyes to the wonders of the reef.

This is why I face the dangers of leaving the pod complex: to remember, to see the rainbow, to stimulate my senses and invigorate myself. I cannot follow the path ’Bow took.

I will not succumb.

A sea turtle approaches and circles me, growing closer with each rotation. The mottled greens of its shell blend with the kelp and algae. I kick my tail, edging myself nearer, but the turtle dips down and disappears into the shadows of the seaweed.

Left to float alone, I wonder how the turtle swims above the Surface—climbs onto Land—to lay its eggs. How can the turtle, with its thin skin and fragile eggshells, survive above the waters when people cannot?

I cannot resist looking up. Light breaks through the Surface, painting the sea in bands of cerulean. I yearn to swim up, to view the Land that we have lost. I burn to know what lies above the waters. Could there be a cure, too late to help ’Bow and my parents, but one that may save others from the same terrible fate?

I hide these forbidden dreams deep inside, choking down the possibilities and swallowing my desires. Once again, I have abandoned my caution. I could be taken away just for thinking about breaching the Surface.

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