Beneath the surface she swims around in silence. There are no words, no chatter or banter, but you’d be wrong to think that the ocean doesn’t speak. It does speak, in a language of bangs and echoes. Beneath the surface she’s free: she has no weight, no age, no name. Her body is reduced to a mass of functions. It breathes, it sees, it touches, it floats. When she achieves perfect buoyancy, there’s no gravity and no judgment, and somehow the two seem related. The caves do not speak. The caves swallow. They swallow everything around her, they swallow and swallow and swallow, until there’s nothing left but her and an immense silence, daunting in its immensity, sated in its hunger. Enveloped in stillness, her past sinks into oblivion as she floats in a timeless embrace. She does not know if she’s the one who forgets or if it’s the caves who do. The first time, the silence choked her. But when she resurfaced, she felt replenished. Ever since, she has gravitated to the caves time and again. As a trained diver she’s used to diving alone. Above the surface, together is better than alone, but beneath the surface alone is better than together: on her own she can dissolve in the world around her, and be nothing, or everything. In the cave she sits down on the seafloor. A shark appears. She does not move. He circles her several times, then swims towards her and lies down next to her in the sand. She rests her hand on his head, pets him. Far away, above the surface, her life floats on the mirror of the sea’s surface, waiting for her to return. Up there, they say that she’s strong, that she has shark skin. But they don’t know that words are so much sharper than teeth. 2

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