The Birth of Man
by Joe Jablonski
In the beginning the planet was water, nothing more than an undulating, blue mass floating in the void of space. It had form yet no function and wasn’t content to existence as it was.
The sea gave birth to a single island, a tiny blister resting atop the delicate waters. For years this small, solitary rock sat dead within the endless sea. But this was just the beginning.
One day, the tide rose higher than normal and came to a perfect stillness. When it receded, it revealed a small baby left behind on the wet shore. The world had never seen a creature such as this.
His earlier years were spent warmed by the sun and nurtured by the sands embrace. He learned how to move, he learned how to think, he learned how to exist. He had a place in the world. He just didn’t yet know that place.
The boy became a man. As dusk came each night he would find himself staring out pass the confines of his personal paradise into the vast unknown with a longing he couldn’t explain. He knew there was nothing out there. It was only a hope. Years went by, never changing. The sea child passed the time building a great monument to himself and to life atop his small island.
The day he finished setting the last stone, he looked down at his hands to find them old and withered. Death had never been explained to him, but then again, it had never needed to be. He understood—everything breaks down to dust given enough time.
In his last days, he lay upon the shore, all alone. Too weak to move, he let the hissing waves break gently on his body.
One day, the tide rose higher than normal and came to a perfect stillness. When it receded, it revealed an empty shore. He was back where he belonged. With one final thought, the sea child sent a lifetime of yearning, desire and desperation back into the ocean that created him.
The sea felt his pleas and at the moment of his heartbeat, a new island sprouted. Now there were two and to each island a new sea child was born.
This cycle continued for millennia until there were so many islands, they eventually clustered into great continents. Many humans were born and died, all with the same longing felt by that first sea child. Eventually, this longing turned to mating and soon man no longer needed Mother Ocean to create life.
Nature gave way to civilization gave way to technology gave way to cities. It wasn’t long before all of the worlds’ oceans dwindled away; crushed under the weight of mans continuous expansion and ambition.
With the water no longer there to sooth their souls, man found new longings and turned to hate and war.
Absorbed in their own world, their own selfishness, they live only in the present. No past, no future.
In the end, the planet was nothing more than a cracked, lifeless rock floating in the void of space, all knowledge of the waters that once flowed, everything those waters had created from that original island and that original sea child were forever lost from memory.
Joe lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and kids. He has work published and/or forthcoming in over twenty markets including M-Brane SF, Title Goes Here:, Liquid Imagination, Static Movement, Short-Story.ME! Genre Fiction, and Aurora Wolf.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'A Rite of Hope'