Anne Tammel - Poet - Speaker - Author of Fiction
Amelia Earhart at the Red Sea
At the Red Sea, she was surprised to discover the sea not at all red but blue. Not even remotely crimson as she allowed herself to imagine. Not like the burning sun she’d spent years attempting to capture.
Why would they call it red if it’s blue?
Let me tell you about the Red Sea, Fred said. They sipped tea on green chairs in Massawa, the last stopping point in Africa, the temperature of that night air one hundred and six degrees. The Israelites simply called it ‘the sea.’ To others it was the ‘Arabian Gulf.’ And since the sea itself isn’t actually red, people have naturally speculated about the name. Some say it comes from a bad translation of ‘Reed Sea,’ as described in the Bible.
But at certain times of year, he continued, some report red-looking mountains near the shore. They claim that seasonal blooms near the surface give an illusion of red. The final theory, of course, is that red simply refers to the south.
She gazed toward that bluish Red Sea, watched the hues of it shift in the last of the late daylight, said, I was expecting this all to play out so differently. I feel like a different woman here. There is this sudden shift. A need to not go back.
The sun was now dipping behind Fred. He turned to Amelia with knowing eyes, looked into his tin cup then added, Isn’t that what you wanted?
The bright morning following the blue of the Red Sea, before flying, she had to feel it for herself.
Dip her toes into that water of mystery, know for once what was the truth. Had it been playing tricks?
Once Fred set off for fuel, she found herself reeling with the curiosity of a child. And in native grey skirt, a gift from an admirer, she ran alone toward that water’s edge. Laughed at her odd reflection in the rippling rim of the world’s northernmost tropical sea, the sea Herodotus in his leniency toward fairy-tale motifs referred to as the Southern Sea.
She danced there in that early morning blush. Wondered why she’d waited so long to live. Imagined herself in a streaming hot bath as she ran alongside the circles of red fish.
The moment she danced into that coral reef, her quiet was broken in two by the calls of a sharp voice.
Amelia! We’ve got to be off. Fred’s voice could be heard from a distance. Monsoon threats. He flagged Amelia using both arms.
The sky as she looked up to it did in fact roll toward them with a dim new weight. Fred’s calculations were accurate.
She looked down to her dress, the wet grey of it no longer carefree but a weighted garb that served to harness and disquiet her.
She had been found in her most private moment of discovering exactly who she was becoming.
Copyright © Anne Tammel 2012