Breaking the Surface
by Amanda Zieba
When Flynn gets the chance to leave her home on the ocean floor to spend some time on the surface, she has a long list of things to do. Things like: make friends, eat a cheeseburger, go to the beach, shop, go on a date and get her driver’s license. She didn’t really expect “reverse a science experiment gone wrong” or “save family from impending doom” to show up on the list. But now that they have, what will she do?
Flynn knew she was awake, but she didn’t open her eyes. She was attempting to savor the final moments of her dream. Maybe if she snuggled way down deep into her covers, she could still feel the heat of the sun kissing her pale skin with a million little rays of happiness and warming her near black hair that stretched down to touch her shoulder blades. But no. She wasn’t dreaming, she was awake. And she wasn’t standing in the sunshine, she was stuck at the bottom of the ocean.
Even as the faint memory of her dream faded, a smile stretched across her lips. She had been waiting for this morning for a very long time. The appeal of spending another second in bed suddenly left her.
SPF 75? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Travel outfit? Check. Arrival Outfit? Check. She flung back the covers.
Goodbye goggles. Goodbye wet suits. Goodbye seafood. Goodbye brothers! She slid her perfectly self-pedicured toes into fuzzy pink slippers and plugged her earbuds in place.
Hello sunshine. Hello birds. Hello wind! Hello cheeseburgers. Hello dating! She danced around her room and packed her belongings into a dust covered suitcase.
Eleven years. Eleven years I’ve waited. It seems as if the years have passed abysmally slow. Like I have been dropped and forgotten at the bottom of a black hole in the ocean. Oh wait, I have. And now? All these years later… Freedom has finally come for me. Freedom at last!
As she danced and packed (a make-up bag just barely
able to zip, her 12 most recent magazines, a Jacque Cousteau biography and her favorite purple glitter nail polish) her smile grew, remembering the day her crazy wonderful journey officially began. It was six months ago.
Flynn’s parents, Arthur and Bermuda Brinestone, are scientists. Her parents had been hired by Professor Solomon Sorenson to study the ocean. Well, study the ocean is an understatement (barked Flynn’s silent commentary when told the story for the umpteenth time at a dinner table with Tubed-in guests). Yes, to study the ocean was their job, but do it they must from the ocean floor inside a bubbled community called the Animal Regeneration Kingdom. Mr. Sorenson, made wealthy from the shipping industry, built them a home at the bottom of the ocean.
Yes, the Solomon Sorenson who patented the unsinkable ship paint that had had quite profound success. “Crashes such as the Titanic no longer haunt you in your sleep. Just paint it on and your worries are gone!” Or so the commercial said. Preposterous really, that a layer of paint could protect your boat, cargo and life all in one, but there it was, copyrighted, backed by the US government and making millions. Ever wonder what that S.S. in front of ship titles meant? Solomon Sorenson, S.S., really, I’m not pulling your leg. Solomon Sorenson. But I digress. Solomon Sorenson built Flynn’s parents a home at the bottom of the ocean.
And what a home it is. Labs and observation windows, sea gardens and dining halls, luxurious water beds, jellyfish lit chandeliers and technology that could make Bill Gates jealous. The ARK is quite amazing really. Amazing, in every sense of the word.
Flynn and her family aren’t the only ones who live there. They are accompanied by 16 others. The selection process for the inhabitants of the ARK was a long and arduous process, but in the end, six families and one widowed woman were chosen to inhabit the ARK. They were chosen to
live, work, study and survive in an enclosed underwater environment. Two of the chosen were Flynn’s brothers, which she was also desperately (and silently in the moment, though always not so silently in her waking hours) desiring a vacation from. Now two normal brothers, yes, a vacation from two normal brothers would be nice, but a vacation from one know-it-all science brainiac older brother and a pain-the-butt-thinks-he’s-so-special-because-he-was-the-first-person-to-be-born-in-the-ARK-little brother… Flynn was practically (in teenage terms) dying for a vacation from them.
So desperately longing for the social normalness of teenage life, Flynn unknowingly entered dinner when a single conversation changed her life.
“Flynn, darling, we know you are feeling a little, well, confined,” her mother begins.
Flynn’s internal monologue roared Duh. Followed by a not-so-internal eye roll.
Her insolence was arrested mid-roll by a single look from her father, Artie Brinestone, famous scientist extraordinaire.
“I’m listening,” said Flynn in her best masked manners voice, to which her brothers Caspian and Noah did a not so covert eye roll, which was in turn caught by Mr. Brinestone, who executed one of his own.
“As I was saying,” Mrs. Brinestone cut in, before her family had entirely lost their eyeballs to the backs of their heads, “We have noticed that you have been a bit restless lately and we wanted you to know of a certain opportunity that has arisen.”
At these words, Flynn’s full attention was focused on her mother and the words coming out of her mouth. Flynn was staring right past the seaweed salad stuck in her mother’s teeth and put all her energy into comprehending the message she was about to deliver.
“An opportunity,” she continued, “to exchange places with a student from the surface school for the school year.”
With these most recent words, Flynn’s jaw flew open as if on hinges. Caspian and Noah also stared, unable to fully believe what their mother was saying. Finally she finished, “We were wondering if you would be at all interested in partici-“
“Interested?!? Interested?!?” Flynn squealed almost hysterically, jumping from her seat. “Interested!?!”
Mr. Brinestone exasperatedly dropped his soup spoon with a loud clank into the bowl, splattering clam chowder across the other members of the table.
Flynn, who would have normally been repulsed by being covered in clam chowder, any kind of chowder really, simply swiped it away from her eyes, pushed her chowder covered hair off her face, got up from the table and kneeled on the floor next to her mother’s chair. She stared up at her mother’s near mirror image face, her green eyes pooling with tears of extreme emotion.
“Really mom? You are not just toying with my adolescent emotions? You are really thinking of letting me go to the surface school for… for… nine whole months?”
No one at the table breathed until Mr. and Mrs. Brinestone uttered a soft, but resolute, “Yes.”
And with Flynn’s exhale, came a smile, a smile that had been gone for a long time. But now that it was back… it had enough power to have lit the whole ARK for a week.
This is the smile she had now, as she danced around her room thinking of the adventures she was about to have at the surface school. Free from her calculated way of life, free from constant supervision, free to make her own choices, free from her brothers and free to rediscover a great place that she had dearly missed, a place that she still considered home. A place called Land.
There is a reason people used the phase “Homeland”. She thought. She tossed a fifth pair of shoes into her bag. The malls, boys and friends won’t be bad either.