I feel my hand, exacting a slow breaststroke, touch something gelatinous. There are moon jellies all around us, floating just below the surface of the Baltic Sea’s turquoise mountain peaks. Like Ponyo’s cartoon jellyfish—translucent shells painted with four-petaled rose windows, from which blooms a center where short tentacles fan out below. We are in their home, in their sea. I already feel so far from myself here, caught in someone else’s East German dream. The moon jellies are so near to me, some of them so small. I can send my hand in an arc underneath the waves to collect one in my palm. Its body see-through, mine pearly underneath it. But I don’t disturb them. They pulse towards an unseen destination. I tread carefully back to shore, imagining the aquarium below, the silent flutter of ribbons across my skin. I stare at you when we are back on the sand, shaking the salty liquid off of our bodies like wet dogs. You have a new scar in between your chest and your left shoulder, red, and protruding slightly like a fresh tattoo. You are not in pain, but a jellyfish marked you still. You left the water with a gift, something to remind you where you are, where they were.
Charlie Gleeson is a Japanese-American and Irish writer from the San Gabriel Valley. She lives in Berlin.