Zurak’s head was filled with the roar of the ocean, her ears had been colonized by the cacophony of sea birds and her skin shivered as fresh blankets of stinging cold water slapped her from all sides. For a few moments, Zurak thought she had been taken by the ocean god Tidalus to spend eternity with her ancestors, but realized that she was still breathing. Not like a fish, but breathing like a person, so Zurak forced her eyes open.
The sky above her was a breathtaking shade of blue with only a few wispy white clouds that were completely different from the angry black storm clouds that had chased her family down the coast line. Another rush of frigid water rolled over Zurak; the tide was coming in so she must make her body get up.
She got to her feet unsteadily; the oncoming tide was strong and kept trying to knock her back down, so Zurak mostly crawled over the smooth boulders on the beach. Every part of her body hurt, from the waterlogged toes to the raw lips and dully pounding headache, but Zurak barely noticed. She was trying to get her bearings on the rocky beach, but more importantly, she was looking for her family.
But all she could see was rocks, small boulders to the left and right, larger ones in front of her and a mouth of jagged rock teeth punching through the
behind. There was a large, smooth boulder just ahead,
taller than Zurak and made almost completely white from bird droppings. It was beyond the tide line and Zurak was
sure she could scale it for a good vantage point. Her skin began to prick like fiery needles
against the smooth rock as Zurak struggled and shimmied to reach the top, her
hand found a small bulge and she used the rest of her strength to pull her
small body upwards. Peaceful
She gave herself a moment to breathe, her body had never felt so weak before and Zurak’s limbs felt like the jelly from animal bones. She thought about her little brother Taeyo, he was not a good swimmer yet and still so small, and fear cut through her guts. Zurak carefully got to her feet on the top of the rock, now she could see up and down the beach.
All she could see were the rocks, rocks were everywhere and they were quickly being swallowed up by the tide. She could see no timbers from their ship, no bits of fabric or cookware and no other people, just rocks, birds and water. The fear inside Zurak was as cold and thick as the walls of ice in the northern lands, as resolute as the glaciers too. What if she was alone here?
Zurak was only twelve, she had never been away from her mother and she did not want to be alone now. Panic filled her lungs and closed her throat, but Zurak’s screams were so powerful that they punched their way past as the stranded girl frantically called out the names of her family.