An Ancient Marriage

Many generations ago, when the world was young, the sea looked inside herself and found loneliness. Her vastness contained child after child. In her cold extremities, a seal bounced after a fish, its bead-brown eyes wide. In her temperate head, an eel slithered past toothy rocks toward its mate. In her warm, beating heart, a shark swam lazily, turning her blood into its breath. She knew only letting them feed and swim and live from within her. So many children she’d borne, yet none of them through love. The solitary ache throbbed in time with her tides.

And then the earth shifted and brushed her, caressing her waves with calloused, brown fingers.

I would like to see your children, the earth whispered. Her voice, soft and despondent, lanced at the sea’s tender heart. I am barren.

The sea grasped for the source of the voice, but she could only lap at the edges of the shore, where the rocks were silent. Who spoke? she asked the stillness.

Please, join me, the earth cried out. I have no one.

The sea strained her great depth out and out, but no matter what she did, she could not rise to greet the voice full of need. Not until she stretched upwards, and, to her disbelief and exhilaration, surged up to the sky. She saw the earth laid out below her. She saw mountains that rose towards her and valleys that pulled away, and all of it beckoned to her.

As she wept with relief at the touch of another, the earth blossomed under her. Soft moss crept up through the crevices of the dry earth, up the trunks of trees that had laid dormant. The children of the sea turned from within their mother’s womb and gaped as living things pulled themselves from the molten depths, from the caves glimmering with wetness, from the newly loamy surface of the plains. The earth shook with joy, and the sea reached for her, and touched again and again and again.

Abigail Krull

Abigail Krull is a student in the English Department at Northern Kentucky University. When she's not studying, she dedicates her time to weightlifting and editing her novel-in-progress. This is her first published work.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.