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© 2016 Susie Oh, "Deep Time"

© 2016 Susie Oh, "Deep Time"

Sana sat on the edge of the boat waiting for the sun to rise from behind the mountains. She often thought that this daily reverie of being in between things, air and water stretched above and below, the softly changing hues of night transitioning into day, was what eternity must feel like. She was never more alive, more present, than in this place, marking the end of a long line of days that ran behind her filled with centuries of women sitting on boats in these same open waters, ready to dive into the silken blue deep below.

Behind her Yorgos was letting down the anchor, securing it on a dead coral rock instead of allowing it to slide across the sand. The sound of his bare feet moving across the small boat, the intermittent sloshing of waves hitting the side, the clinking of the empty bucket handles as they moved in time with the sea; they were the sounds of ritualistic preparation. Today, though, Yorgos interrupted her.

"Your new fin," he said. He pointed to a fiberglass monofin still in its plastic packaging. It had been made to measure for her.

"I don't want it," she said.

"Sana, your mother's fins are falling apart. A new one isn't just about a faster haul, it's about being able to surface faster if you need to."

"Tomorrow," she said.

"That's what you said yesterday and the day before that. It's been half a year, Sana."

"One last day, Yorgo. I promise."

He sighed and squeezed her shoulder. She looked down at her feet clad in the frayed rubber of her mother's last pair of fins. Sana had only begun using them about two months after her mother died. About three months after her mother's last dive. They didn't even fit her that well but she had modified them, padded them on the inside so that her narrow feet would have some hold in her mother's wider mold. When she would do her breathing exercises before free-diving to the ocean floor she would breathe to the image of watching these same fins fluidly propel her mother forward in the water while Sana followed in her wake. Even in those sporadic dives in the last year of her life, her mother had been a smoother, more consistent diver than Sana. Even when she lost the fat on her body that supposedly made it easier for women to hold their breath, even when she shrank and needed fewer weights to plummet herself down, even when out of water her hand shook with the tremors of old age, Sana's mother had been the most elegant apnea diver she'd ever witnessed.

"The older we get, korou, the better we get at it," her mother would tell her.

"Was yiayia better than you, anne?" Sana would ask, even though she already knew the answer.

"Yiayia was magnificent. The best in the region," her mother would reply.

"I hope I never get better than you," Sana remembered replying.

Her mother had wrapped her in a hug and Sana still remembered the smell of her mother's neck, the comforting tightness of the arms that pressed into her and held her just like the water did in the deep.

"I hope you do, korou," said her mother. "You deserve all the minutes."

The sun rose higher over the hills behind her and Sana felt the skin on her back prickling into warmth. It was time to get into the water. She fixed her wooden goggles, tightened the cloth around her torso, and breathed her mind clear.

This part of the preparation was trance-like. Sana had no other way of describing it: an otherworldly state that could be disconcerting to witness for the first time. As she slowed down her heartbeat, her eyes remained open but unfocused. Her muscles entered deep relaxation so that her body began to need less and less oxygen and she expended as little energy as possible. Even her mind had to switch off, thoughts pushed outwards, left behind her on the open deck with Yorgos and the empty containers waiting to be filled with sea urchins and sponges. She took her final breath in and fell into the water like a loaded sack, a weight wrapped around her waist, a string bag on her wrist, and a pronged spear loosely held in her left arm.

Time was torporific under water. Sana's movements dragged, giving the impression of great stealth. Only the fish, darting behind anemones, gave speed to the world. Sana slackly regarded them as her feet touched the sea floor at a mere ten-meter depth. Her soles slipped past the sharp coral, her spear lazily readied in case she saw a large red mullet worth snaring. The newly found numbness that came from grief had made the diving impossibly easier than it ever had been. It helped her body relax further, helped her use less oxygen, so that she had begun to stay down longer, up to four, sometimes even five, minutes. The currents seemed to pull the empty ache out of her, as though her body were just a translucent husk. And then the sound of her heart beating inside her would remind her it was time to surface, and she would feel the slight throbbing of her body asking to live, and reluctantly, made aware again of her natural place above water, she would rise.

What Sana did not know was that she was leaving a suffocating silence behind her after every dive: immeasurable seconds that spread out against the renewed calm of the water's surface, the foreshadowing threat of terminal loss. Yorgos had learned to have something to keep himself occupied with while he kept an eye on the time. He prepared the deck for whatever Sana was likely to bring back, putting ice into buckets for the fish, sharpening his knives to harvest sea-urchin organs, wetting the cloths to cover any sponges she might collect. He had had to double his efforts to find things to do since she had begun to spend longer below the water. He understood that grief had changed his wife, had made her somehow more resilient to her body's drive for oxygen. He wondered if the grieving for a previous generation was what made each new generation of apnea divers able to stay down longer and longer. He waited, drew breath on the last drag of an unfiltered cigarette; another way of counting minutes, the time it took to smoke a cigarette down to its butt. It didn't calm him, but it gave him something to pretend to focus on.

She emerged. Her string bag held two large sponges, a dozen sea urchins, and two medium-sized squid.

"Full moon," she gasped. "The urchins must be full to the brim with sweetness."

Yorgos knew better than to say anything in response. Sana was usually half-deaf when she came out of the water. The depth of twenty-five or even fifteen meters made the diver's ears roar. She had damaged her eardrums, like most free-divers, before she was even ten years old. He simply nodded.

"Next stop," she said and clambered onto the boat, avoiding his eyes, knowing she had stayed down too long for comfort. "There'll be a lot of activity after yesterday's tides by Goat's Head."

© 2016 Susie Oh, "Deep Time"

As they got close to Goat's Head, Yorgos slowed the motor to park in their usual spot. Within minutes Sana was in the water again. As she went under this time she had to adjust her vision to the change in light. Here, she was facing east so the light came straight through the clear water into her eyes. There were reef beds covered in glowing sea urchins but she let them be and let herself sink further down, equalizing every few seconds, her body entirely relaxed. The water was so clear this side of the bay that she could see almost twenty meters ahead and below. Not that she needed to. She had this area mapped out perfectly in her head, knew it from childhood diving with her family, knew where every rock lay, where the seabed curved deeper, where the fish tended to gather, where the local turtle preferred to graze. She headed closer to the ocean floor scouting for albacore. The waters would be too warm for them by the following month but right now the temperature was just right. She moved herself through a cold stream towards a rare cluster of red coral that she regularly checked in on throughout her life, determined to keep it protected from potential harvesters. It sparkled in the fractured light of the rising sun.Goat's Head was their nickname for a deep area around a patch of coral reef they frequented, named not after the goat’s-head weed that grew in abundance in the nearby Mesaoria, but because once Sana and Yorgos had been surprised to find a goat skull inexplicably affixed atop the reef surface. Yorgos turned on the motor and took them closer to it, away from the shoreline of their sleepy village. Sana cleaned her equipment and placed her haul in the appropriate containers.

Below her, an unusual object caught Sana's eye, sinking down slowly to the sea floor.

At first she thought it was a tossed bottle that had been brought in by the tide. But its shape was peculiar and it didn't shine like plastic or glass, it seemed translucent, holding that same limpid quality of a jellyfish. As she moved closer she noticed there was another one even further down, also sinking. And that only one word would do to describe the shape of these pellucid objects: amphorae.

They sank gently and Sana found herself looking up to see where they could have come from. There hadn't been a soul apart from her and Yorgos up on the surface. Another ghostly amphora appeared right above her, moving straight past her. Up close it guttered like the bad reception on her childhood television set, flickering between cloudy impermanence and the firm texture of baked red clay. Sana reached out for it but her fingers found nothing to grip onto. Instead her hand felt as though it was being softly pricked by a thousand tiny needles. The vessel slipped past her. With her arm still stretched out she followed the flickering ancient bottle down, entirely mesmerized as it continued to form itself, becoming more solid, more red, heavy with itself.

She paused to watch its trajectory to the bottom of the ocean, eyes opening wide: the amphora was falling directly into a pile of hundreds of similar ancient containers stuck fast in the sand; a mass of individual shapes stuttering into focus, some turning red, some transitioning into white as though aged and rotten. Getting closer, the increased pressure held Sana tight so that her lungs held even less air than they had ten meters earlier. She relaxed further, slowing down her heartbeat, not thinking in order not to use any unnecessary oxygen.

From under the amphorae, a gossamery curved ship began to materialize. Sana was so close to the seabed by now that the boat's prow, tilted at an angle, coruscated into existence in front of her. Below her the fine sand was now covered in a broken ruin of a shipwreck, flittering into focus. She hovered above the boat as it spilled over with bottles, bronze boxes, and what looked like metal coins, ingots, thousands of them. The ship, tipped to the side, had formed into a hard wood, its mast broken and fallen against the sea floor. As Sana continued to watch she saw the wood become mottled with sea coral, seaweed wafting through the cracks, and then an influx of fish and anemones: an entire ecosystem of sea life sweeping in and out of the holes and broken interior of the boat.

As though this ship had lain here for thousands of years.

As though this wreck had been here always.

Sana had to leave, her air was running out and her body was taxed more than it was used to. She tried to focus on staying calm and maneuvered herself upward, as slowly as she could bear to avoid decompression, her lung capacity growing at every meter. She came up, taking a big breath, into the sunlight and air. Her body was cold. She felt dazed, incredulous, here in the harshness of direct sunlight, of what she had just witnessed. She motioned to Yorgos to bring the boat towards her. When he came right up to her she threw her hunting equipment into the back of the boat and said, "Camera." Yorgos was surprised, she almost never used the underwater camera. He handed it to her and without another word, knowing she risked the bends, she went down again.

This time Sana didn't waste time, she went straight to the location of the wreck, almost afraid it wouldn't be there, worried that it was a trick of the eye, some kind of delayed grief side effect that she had never heard of before. But there it was. She dived straight down, determined to touch it, to feel the wood, to grip the helm. It was solid in her hand. A fifteen-meter-long wreck, she approximated. Ancient. Filled with rare, forgotten cargo. Keeping her balance, she brought the camera steady, turned it on, and began to take pictures of as much of the ship as she could.

Two minutes later she turned her head up to the surface ready to rise. Right above her was another diver, dark and supple, her chest bare like how Sana's elders used to dive. The woman didn't notice Sana below her, or the enormous wreck, but looked right over them, intent on something she was hunting. As she came closer Sana could see the curve of her face, recognized the concentration and focus in a perfectly relaxed body of a fellow diver, holding nothing but her hunting spear, poised to attack. There was something about the woman's almond-shaped eyes, the angle of her nose, the easy length of her limbs that was hauntingly familiar. Sana moved up and the other diver turned her gaze to Sana and visibly started at Sana and the wreck. She stretched out her hand to touch Sana, and Sana watched as the other diver's arm went straight through her body, as though she were made of nothing. The woman's eyes widened just before she vanished, the blue around her undisturbed, and Sana, lungs bursting and mind racing, rose up as fast as she dared.

She broke the surface in a panic of breathing that had never happened to her before. She lifted herself onto the boat and handed the camera to Yorgos who took it, but not without eyeing her up and down to see if she was displaying symptoms of decompression sickness.

© 2016 Susie Oh, "Deep Time"

"I'm fine," she said. "I've had a shock, that's all, but I came up safe."

"You sure?"

"Please, re, just look at the camera."

He scrolled through the pictures she had taken. His whole body stilled as he stared. He looked at her. She at him.

"Go down," she told him. "See for yourself." Her mind was racing at her encounter with the strange woman.

"How deep?"

"Thirty meters?"

"You know I can't do that."

Sana had forgotten. Her mind wiped clean.

"Sana, this wreck … We've been coming here twenty-five years."

"I know."

"So a wreck like this doesn't just appear!"

"I know."

The sea continued its sonorous consistent lap against the boat.

"Maybe some strange tide brought it in?" Yorgos's voice was hopeful.

"Let's go home," said Sana. She got up and began to change the cloth around her torso. "I have to call the INA."

Yorgos pulled her close to him and smelled the sea evaporating off her skin from the rising heat of the sun, was surprised to feel her shaking, her body colder than it should've been.

"No pain, right?" he asked her quietly, making sure that she didn't have the bends.

"No pain, Yorgo, I promise."

"Okay," he said. "Let's go home."

Home was a short ride away in their pickup truck: a small two-bedroom bungalow that Sana had grown up in and moved into with Yorgos to look after her mother when her father passed away. Once there she moved directly to the only phone in the house: a faded green rotary wall phone next to the fridge, rarely used. She picked up the receiver and dialed the number for the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, pinned up next to the phone, written in her mother's sparse hand.

She spoke stiffly into the phone, trying not to use any dialect when talking to the kind if brisk woman on the other end. Someone would be there shortly, she was told.

How shortly was shortly?

By the end of the following day. Could she please email them the pictures she took?

"Yes," replied Sana.

She dutifully took down the email address, gave her own contact details, hung up the receiver, and went next door to ask her neighbor's daughter to do it for her. She and Yorgos didn't have a computer or Internet installed in their house. They rarely had any need for it. Her neighbor, Elina, and her daughter, Aisha, were full of questions that Sana tried to answer as well as she could, but the truth was she was beginning to confuse herself by keeping the details straight in her head.

"This discovery will change the town forever," Elina said. Something Sana hadn't even considered.

It wasn't just Elina and Aisha who had questions. Yorgos returned from his trip to the center of town, the smell of raki on his breath.

"Re," said Sana, more amused than chastising, "It's not even noon."

"I know," said Yorgos, vaguely embarrassed. "But the men at the coffee shop insisted I needed a drink after they plied me with their questions. Everyone's in shock, Sana. Your cousin refused to believe me and she's out there right now checking to see if you're right. Not that she can match your depth. She'll need SCUBA assistance."

"Zahar's a fool," said Sana. She didn't get along with her older cousin. A shame, people remarked, as they were the only two remaining apnea divers in the town.

Yorgos looked at her for a long second. She shook her head as if to clear it from superfluous thoughts.

"Yorgo, there was a story," began Sana. "There was a story that we used to tell one another." She stopped. Not sure if she was able to go on. She rarely spoke about the tales the apnea divers shared with each other, often excluding their partners, the boatmen. He had never pried, and besides, chances were he had his own share of myths and legends from other boatmen. Yorgos stayed quiet, waiting.

"The story was about the primal diver. She lived in the days of the ancients, swam bare-breasted, hunted with grace. In the Great Wars she helped scuttle grand ships, brought richness in copper and food and jewels to our village. If it weren't for her the community would have perished, instead they became fat with trade and wealth. She wasn't, you understand, a queen or a princess or a lord. She was more like a god, a gift. She became so good at diving, so skilled, that she began to spend all her time underwater, so that her eyes changed to better adjust to the sea, and as a result she could see beyond, she saw all of us, in her future."

"The Mother," said Yorgos.

"Yes. Yes! Have you heard of her?"

"The boatmen know of her, but only to fear her. We were told that she portends the death of our partners. That if our lover saw her in the water, her end was near." Yorgos's calmness was betrayed by a tremor in his voice. "Sana mou, did you see her?"

Sana paused.


"Sana …"

"No, re," Sana became firm. "It was just a story, the only story that I could think of that could connect to this ancient shipwreck that appeared."

"You think she brought us the shipwreck a few centuries too late?" Yorgos smiled.

Sana smiled back.

"It's not for us to figure out, I guess. I called the INA, they'll be here by tomorrow," she told him.

"Then for now let's enjoy the calm before the storm," said Yorgos. He pulled out a short bottle of raki from his back pocket and held it out to her.

Sana couldn't help but laugh. He poured some into a small tumbler and handed it to her. She looked at the glass in his hand, the alcohol innocently clear, silent about what it contained.

"Yorgo," said Sana, unable to contain herself, "it just … it was just there! Out of nowhere!"

I watched it materialize in front of me, she thought to herself. There was someone else in the water with me.

"I know."

"But it doesn't make any sense!"

"To the nonsensical then. Like you said, let the scientists figure it out."

She took the glass and drank.

The days and weeks that followed were a blur. The archaeologists descended on Sana's small town one after another, each arriving with more excitement and more delight after seeing the treasures emerging from the bottom of Sana’s and Yorgos’s reef. They came past her house to offer their congratulations, to give her gifts, to thank her for reporting the find to them.

"Your name will be known far and wide," said one particular gentleman with graying hair and a paunch belly. "Your town won't be the same after this," echoing Elina's sentiments.

Soon after the trained divers and archaeologists came the scientists with specialties Sana had never heard of before: archaeogeneticists, carbon daters, zooarchaeologists, palynologists, archaeobotanists. It turned out that the hold of the shipwreck held an enormous bounty of sealed containers filled with seeds, nuts, and fruit that were perfectly preserved after over three thousand years of lying under the water. They had dated the wreck to the twelfth century BC. It was theorized to be an important cargo ship, filled with exotic products from across the region, being sent to the mainland for the rich and powerful to feast on. Even the unusual wood the ship was made of spoke volumes about the geopolitical context of the region, and the far-ranging communication and trade that existed between empires. This wreck didn't just contain important information about how people lived then, but what the geological and botanical reality of the world was then. It was an explosion of history, trapped in amphorae and copper boxes, embedded in the materials themselves, all discovered by Sana at the bottom of her sea.

In the wake of the scientists came the journalists. Somehow they got hold of her phone number, a number almost no one had or used, and the green rotary phone began to ring and ring at all hours throughout the day. The voices on the other end spoke fluently and politely and she quickly learned stock answers to the same repeated questions. Then the voices began to hold different accents, some of them even speaking languages she didn't know so that she had to call Aisha over to speak to them in broken English, translating for her as best as she could. A few reporters knocked on her door. One took her picture and the next day Yorgos brought a national newspaper home, the photograph of her on the front page. She studied it, surprised to find that she was smiling, standing in front of their boat with her mother's tatty fins tucked under her arm, just back from a dive. She and Yorgos had continued their routine as usual, keeping a wide berth from the research vessel the INA had set up, instead going to sites closer to the coastline. She almost didn't recognize herself in the picture, there was an ease, and even, if she let herself admit it, a grace to her posture. A few days later Aisha found and printed out an international newspaper with incomprehensible words surrounding the same photograph.

"You're famous." Yorgos smiled at her while they lay in bed that night looking at the printout.

"Famous for being a fool," she replied.

"I doubt that," he said.

"Come on, re, you know they keep asking me if it was the first time I'd been down there and I keep telling them I've been down there a hundred times. They either don't believe me or they think I'm blind as well as half-deaf."

"That's not the bit of the story people are interested in, Sana. They're just interested in what you discovered."

Yorgos was right; few articles mentioned the fact that the shipwreck had, by Sana's accounts, simply appeared out of nowhere. They either neglected to mention it or they made it sound as though the sea was such an unfathomable place that even the best of divers could find themselves turned around in its most familiar corners.

It made for good story.

This time Sana was with her neighbors, Elina and Aisha, and Elina's sisters and nieces. A bevy of women laughing and jumping into the water from the end of the old pier in the haziness of early evening. The wood was wet with slippery feet, the water warm and soft, welcoming, so that the women, young and old, held themselves half-in half-out of the sea, either dipping their legs in while sitting on the pier, or holding onto the pier, their bodies submerged, as they chattered, smoothing their wet hair away from their faces. Sana was grateful for this evening of socialization, the ease of women reforming intimate spaces between one another. They spoke little of the wreck, apart from the younger girls who discussed, eyes animated, the exoticness of the outsiders who had arrived, the sophistication of their clothing, the strangeness of their haircuts, the softness around their bellies. The older women smiled their knowing smiles, glancing at one another, a bottle of anise liquor quietly passed between them.

"Drink," said Elina to Sana, pushing the bottle into her hands. And Sana did, to blur out further the memory of that day of the wreck, to lose herself to the present moment, away from the confusion of the befores and afters. The anise was sticky in her mouth against the salt on her lips, and she placed the bottle down on the pier and pushed herself into the water, pushed her head under the water only for a second to feel her eyelids get wet and her hair waft away from her, and she came up again into the vague shadows of a dusk coming into night only to find that she was alone. The voices, the laughter, gone. There were no bodily shapes in the sea beside her, nor above her.

Sana pulled herself up onto the pier, squinting in the ending twilight. The pier was empty. The village, at its other end, quiet, a few single lights hanging on the main street. The buildings seemed somehow different and sparser. But before she explored further her eye caught movement, two figures walking towards her. Their silhouettes were firmly outlined but it looked to Sana as though she could see right through them, see the long stretch of the pier, the lights of the village. She rubbed her eyes. They came closer.

It took Sana a moment to realize that the figures, now clearly two women—one young, one old—were talking. She had to strain to hear the words.

"It hasn't been the way I expected, anne," said the younger woman, in a low, familiar voice.

"I don't know a newly pregnant woman who has ever known what was coming," the mother said, laughing and putting her palm on her daughter's still-flat tummy.

"Are you ready to be a yiayia?"

"Of course, Ashti mou," said the elder lady and Sana's skin tightened as she recognized her mother and grandmother.

"I've been ready to be a yiayia since you were in my belly. Your unborn child was already part of you, and so a part of me," said Sana's grandmother.

The two women were now standing right opposite Sana who was sitting squat on the pier, dripping sea water. Their legs shimmered the way the shipwreck had before it solidified, sheer but present. Sana thought for a second that she could hear Elina's laughter but the women she had been with were still nowhere to be seen.

Ashti turned and hugged her mother.

"The way you think, anne, like we're always connected, it gives me such comfort."

"It's how we're made, canım. We are always connected. No matter what. Through our minutes in the sea. And so is the little one you're carrying."

Sana's grandmother hugged her daughter back and over her shoulder she looked straight at Sana. Her expression opened into surprise. Sana stumbled, graceless, to get up, reached out her hand to touch her family, but the moment vanished out from under her and she teetered unexpectedly into Elina's arms who was now in front of her, the crowd of women appearing again, now all looking at her and laughing, while Elina was saying, in an amused tone, "Sana, you are such a lightweight."

"What? No. I—"

"Let's get you home."

As if on cue, all the women began to get up and comb their hair back off their shoulders, putting on their dresses or their shorts, still chattering and happy, teasing Sana gently. Elina brushed Sana's hair for her and then took Sana to her house, told Yorgos, with laughter, that his wife couldn't handle her liquor. Sana remained dazed, her mouth dry, but she didn't know if it was from alcohol or from what she had seen.

That night Sana slept fitfully. The heat had spiked in the last few days and it seemed to fuel the constant replaying of the look in her grandmother's eyes on the pier, the moment where Sana had almost reached out and touched her. Her body felt heavy, like a sack of rotten fish. She pulled herself out of bed, careful not to disturb Yorgos who had entangled his legs in hers, and walked straight to the darkness of the kitchen.

In the corner, the green rotary phone seemed to pulse and glow.

She picked up the receiver. In the darkness, she could almost pretend that the kitchen table was actually the old one from her childhood, pushed up against the window because her mother loved to sit in the sunshine, she and her mother sitting together, heads bowed, shelling fresh black-eyed beans into bowls for tomorrow's lunch, her mother's hands easily slipping the pods empty, Sana's small hands picking away at the waxy coating. Without turning on the lights Sana dialed her own house number, the way it had been when she was a child, five figures without the need for an area code. Each rotation of the dial brought back the memory of calling home when she was at a friend's house or at school, the emergency dial of a child in need of her parents. She listened to the receiver, the pause of a phone working out what it's supposed to do. Sana worried it wouldn't work, that the phone would wait, hungry for the three more numbers to complete the multi-coded sequence of twenty-first-century telecommunications. But she heard a click, as though the phone had made sense of the information she gave, and then it began to ring. Slow rings. Sana held her breath. One ring. Two. Three. Then, the sound of a receiver being picked up on the other end.


Her mother's voice reached her, tinny and faraway, but undoubtedly hers. The phone greeting, the intonation, just as Sana had heard it throughout her life, the voice strong and deep.

"Anne?" Sana said softly.

There was a pause on the other end, filled with the hiss of a crackling telephone line. Sana imagined her mother standing in exactly the same spot as she herself stood now, staring at the same green phone, less worn, less dusty. As she pictured this a memory arrived, perhaps newly formed, perhaps always there. Herself, eight years old, walking into the kitchen and seeing her mother stand by the phone, gray eyes wide, staring right at her.

"Who is this?" said her mother.

"It's me, anne. Sana." Sana felt like her voice would break.

"Korou," said her mother. Sana now remembered the surprise in her own eight-year-old head. Her mother called only her "korou," who could she be talking to? Her mother turned away from her, so that she could no longer see her face.

"I miss you," said Sana, before her grief overtook her and she began to cry.

"Korou," said her mother, "It will be okay."

"I called," said Sana, trying to stop the sobs that cracked out of her lungs, "because I hoped it would work, because I wanted to tell you one last time that I love you, that I think—" she swallowed tears and mucus, wiped her face with the back of her hand, "—that I think whatever's happening to me has happened so I can call you, to say goodbye …"

"Sana mou," her mother's voice stayed soft, even as it shook with emotion. "There have been stories of the primal diver that go back centuries—"

"I saw her, anne," said Sana, tripping over her words to explain. "I saw her, in the water, beside a shipwreck."

"No, Sana, she saw you."

White noise spilled into the pause of Sana caught off guard.


"You. The primal diver."

Sana's thoughts scrabbled for a hold.

"I'm … I'm not, this isn't …"

"Korou, everything shifts, ends, begins again differently, and you are the last of us. The culmination of us."

"But this, this has happened to me. It's not something I've done."

"You have. You've been mourning us on the ocean's floor. You've been looking for us. And you found us, if briefly."

"Will I be able to call you again?" Because I need to be able to, thought Sana desperately but not wanting to say the words out loud.

"I don't think so, canım, we are only granted a short time under water, why should this be any different?"

Sana's throat tightened.

"Anne …"

"Me too, Sana," said her mother. "More than minutes."

And the line went dead.

Sana slid down against the wall while the receiver hung loose, swinging on its frayed, coiled wire. Outside, morning broke over a village on the cusp of historical eminence as scientists and academics immersed themselves in the new discoveries they made on the shipwreck that had slipped through Sana's time into their grasp. Sana breathed out. She could hear Yorgos walking out to their truck. Gathering her grief, she moved to get her fins.

© 2016 Susie Oh, "Deep Time"

Alexandra Manglis lives and writes in Cyprus. Her non-fiction work has appeared in the LARB, The Millions, and the Times Literary Supplement and she holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford. This is her first professional fiction sale. You can find her on Twitter @alexantra.
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Issue 15 Apr 2024
By: Ana Hurtado
Art by: delila
Issue 8 Apr 2024
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