Life with Eris
By Kelly Russo
If you ever go on an
archeology dig, be careful when picking up strange
artifacts. This is a good idea in general, as many
ancient artifacts are fragile and you never know when a
venomous snake will be hiding in a pot. Or if you are
me, you might end up with a goddess of chaos stuck in
Hopefully no one will
find this document tucked underneath my piles of field
notes. I don’t need more people thinking I’m insane. I
have certainly doubted my own sanity enough these past
couple of months, but it seemed necessary to write this
down. After all, this experience was integral to my
I was a first-year
Master’s student on my first archeological trip. I had
never been overseas before, and had to suppress my
squeals of excitement at each historical ruin or temple.
After some sightseeing, it was time for the reason I had
come here in the first place. My advisor, Dr. Louis, had
received word of a temple to Eris, the goddess of
discord, on the edge of Greece.
"I thought none of
the Greeks actually wanted to build a temple to Eris.
They were all just kind of afraid of her," I said,
sweating in the heat of the Greek summer.
thought so too. But someone decided to construct one.
There is actually a small, modern religion dedicated to
worshipping Eris and all she represents, but this looks
too old to be faked by them." Dr. Louis spoke in his
usual monotone that made me a bit sleepy. But I thought
I could detect a hint of excitement in his voice.
I was surprised when
I found out that Dr. Louis chose me for this trip. I
didn’t know him well and was a below-average student.
But the temple was directly related to my research on
obscure sects of ancient Greek religion, so the
professor gave in to my increasingly long and desperate
"How did you find out
about this place?," I asked.
"I got an anonymous
tip. The funny thing is, I know many researchers who
have done digs in this region and none of them had ever
found this place before," Dr. Louis responded.
"I guess it is well
The temple was
located in an undeveloped area and was secluded in a
large thicket of olive trees. The only signifier this
was a temple at all was the large statue of Eris at one
end. Otherwise it just looked like a cracked floor with
the toppled remains of stone columns around it. The
statue seemed to be looking at me with its cold stone
eyes. I got a chill down my spine, despite the summer
"We do not know for
sure that this is a temple. Many buildings may have had
statues such as this. But it’s worth investigating," Dr.
Louis said as he took pictures of every surface.
I moved in front of
the statue. I had the tendency to want to touch
everything I found interesting, which was a disastrous
trait for an archeologist. It had gotten me fired from a
museum job before when I broke a thousand-year-old pot
by mistake. It irritated my colleagues to no end as
well, although they didn’t seem to like me much in the
I lightly tapped the
statue on the nose, feeling its smooth surface.
Images flooded my
head. Sights of ancient Greece surrounded me. Pictures
of war, decay, and destruction. And the sound of shrill
Grasping my head, I
sank to the floor. The last thing I heard before passing
out was Dr. Louis calling my name.
I woke staring at the
white stucco ceiling of a Greek hospital. "Hello," I
heard a tiny voice say. It wasn’t Dr. Louis. Thinking it
was a nurse, I looked around the room but there was no
"That’s it, I finally
snapped." I said out loud to no one. "Hours of studying
obscure texts have finally done it."
"No, it’s only me,"
said a voice in my head.
To my surprise, the
voice responded. "Eris," it said.
"Yeah, now I know
I have lost it."
"It’s actually me." I
heard it mutter "Stupid mortal," in a low voice.
"I will have you
know, I am actually rather smart for a human." Or so
I assumed, having gotten into a decent Masters’ program,
although I was barely passing my classes. But Eris, if
this was actually Eris, didn’t know that. At least I
didn’t think so. Was Eris omnipotent?
"I don’t doubt that.
I shouldn’t have called you stupid. More naive,
probably. Mortals tend to be. But that’s what makes them
so interesting. Who are you?"
"My name is Cleo.
Why are you here? Why me?"
"I didn’t choose you
specifically. You just happened to be the one to touch
the statue. I had been trapped there for an awfully long
"Why do you even
need a person? What are you planning?" I thought,
shaking a bit.
"I don’t need
anything. I was just bored. Same reason I started the
Trojan War. Besides, I haven’t talked to anyone for a
very long time."
"You started the
Trojan War because you were bored?" I grabbed a
notepad out of my jacket pocket and began to write her
words down. I didn’t quite believe the goddess was
actually in my head, but something compelled me to
"That wasn’t the
only reason. I was also lonely, just like I have been
these past few millennia. And angry."
"Why were you
"They didn’t invite
me to the wedding. None of them liked me much. Not my
sisters, not the other gods, not the mortals, and not
even my own children." The voice in my head sounded like
a pouty child.
"I imagine causing
a war surely didn’t help much?"
"It’s my nature. It’s
what I was created to do. All I can do is cause more
"What gave you the
idea of throwing the golden apple?"
I could almost see
her smile. "It seemed like the most fun thing to do.
Goddesses are vain and jealous. Tell them that the most
beautiful one gets a shiny prize and they will fight
each other over it. I didn’t expect the war though. I
just figured they would squabble among themselves for a
while, and that would be it. As usual, it was Zeus’
fault for picking the idiotic Paris to settle the issue,
but no one ever blames Zeus. Well, sometimes Hera does,
but even she blamed me in this case. I didn’t expect
Paris to kidnap the King of Sparta’s wife."
She was quiet for a
moment. "I am always just the catalyst for these things.
The truly stupid things the mortals do on their own."
I didn’t say
anything. All I could think of was how I could get this
goddess and its awful deeds out of my head.
"You already want me
gone, don’t you?" the voice said.
"Uh, well this is
kind of inconvenient right now. I have a thesis proposal
to work on." I paused in thought. I could sense Eris
in my head, waiting for my response. "Actually, you
may be able to help with that. It is about obscure
religious sects in ancient Greece."
"I may know a tiny
bit about that," Eris responded sarcastically.
"Tell you what,
you can stay for a month as long as you help with my
research, but after I finish my thesis proposal, you
have to leave. Okay?"
"Why should I leave?"
I couldn’t think of a
reason from her perspective, so I tried improvising. "Well
you cannot do much in my head. But if you left me, you
have a chance of finding a more useful host, someone
with more power." I shuddered to think of Eris
actually getting a hold over someone of political power.
I actually planned to get rid of Eris somewhere where no
one could find her and prayed she couldn’t read my real
Eris was silent, as
if considering the possibilities. "I don’t want power.
But I suppose multiple hosts would be more fun. It would
get boring here after a while."
"Is that a
"Great, how do I
get rid of you then?"
"In order for me to
leave you have to bind me to a new object."
"And how long will
Eris hesitated again.
"That answer is
entirely too vague, but I guess we don’t have another
choice." At that moment, the nurse burst in and I
had to pretend like everything was completely normal.
I had to admit, the
flight back to Santa Barbara passed faster with Eris
talking the whole time. Some of her tales of Ancient
Greece I wrote down as notes for my paper but I mostly
Eris watched the
world outside. She had seen it years before, in previous
hosts, but the world had changed since then. And while
she could peer out from the inside of the statue, that
view got awfully old after several millennia. She liked
airplanes okay, but she loved the airport. She called it
the "epitome of chaos." I can’t say I disagreed.
Things began to go
wrong on the drive back to my apartment. Another
professor had picked Dr. Louis and myself up at the
airport. "Tell the driver to go faster," Eris said.
"I’m not going to
"You’re no fun."
"I don’t want to
"Well, do something
interesting at least. I’m getting bored again."
"It’s not my job
to keep you entertained all the time."
Eris’ rare silence
told me that it was.
"Are you okay?" Dr.
"I’m fine," I said,
not sounding fine at all. I glared a bit too harshly. I
could see Dr. Louis recoil a bit.
"Sorry," I said, not
sounding sorry either. We passed the rest of the ride in
silence. "That was kind of interesting, I guess," Eris
"You have to stop
pestering me when there are people around," I
thought to Eris later. "Dr. Louis thinks I am angry
at him now because you were irritating me. This man is
on my thesis committee. I have to stay on his good side."
"I never saw the use
of all these personal relations."
you need them to survive. And maybe that’s why the other
gods didn’t like you." Eris was silent for only the
second time that day.
"Uh, I’m sorry,
that came out rather harsh," I said.
"It’s okay, I suppose
it is true," Eris said glumly.
"Look, I know how
you feel. I haven’t made many friends at this school
yet. Well, any, actually, but I’m working to improve
things. I guess that’s why I got upset."
"We’re going to
have to make this arrangement work."
"I haven’t worked
with others much before. Sometimes the other gods order
me to do things, but that’s about it. Like Hera did with
that one couple, Polytekhnos and Aedon."
"That was an ugly
situation." I wondered if Eris could feel me wince.
"Once again, that was
the mortals’ fault in the end. All I did was say that
whoever finished their task first had to give the other
a servant. The murder, cannibalism, and other nastiness
was all them. I think they were much happier once they
got turned into birds."
I sighed and changed
the subject. "The less that you cooperate with me,
the more I will stay shut up in my office. And you will
get to see even less of the world."
"That does sound
"If you help me
out, I will take you on more trips. Maybe even stop by
the airport again. What do you say?"
We fell into a
pattern for the next three months. Eris was invaluable
for my research, as she told me about Greek religious
sects I don’t think anyone else knew existed. Once a
week, I took trips to places such as the airport or the
mall. I hated the crowds, but Eris was less ornery after
these trips, so it was worth it. I also started the
process of finding an object to bind Eris to.
"I am slightly
offended you chose such a cheap object, but I appreciate
the irony," she said. The object in question was a "Somebody
in Greece Loves Me," coffee mug that I bought on a
whim from the airport while waiting Dr. Louis to rent a
car. This was before I realized I had no idea to whom to
give it, since my parents disapproved of my studying
archeology and thought I should have become a lawyer
student peered into the doorway. "Hi, I was looking for
Emily or Matt." Emily and Matt were the other graduate
students I shared an office with. It was rather cramped
with all three of us were here, but at least they
weren’t around often.
"I haven’t seen them
today. Can I help you with anything?"
"Do you have a cup I
can borrow? I forgot mine." She eyed the mug. "What
about that one?"
"I’m not loaning that
one out to people," I blurted. No rituals had been
performed on it yet, but I wanted the cup handy. The
other student eyed me as if I had grown another head.
"I, uh, was about to go get coffee myself and I need
anyways," she murmured as she rushed out.
These sort of
interactions were commonplace over the past few months.
The other students had slowly shifted from ignoring my
presence to warily glancing at me and speeding up as
they walked past me.
I stared hard at the
mug. "I am going to bury this in the ground very deep
where no one will find it for a long time. I hope that
is okay," I thought to Eris.
"I was alone for over
a thousand years. I will manage," she responded.
Dr. Louis’s voice
sounded from just outside my office door. "Cleo? I saw
the draft of your paper you sent me. Could you please
come to my office to discuss it?"
A wave of fear passed
over me. I had never been called into his office before.
What could I have done wrong? I had been even less
social that usual lately, as Eris’ constant chattering
continued to make me irritable towards others. But I
didn’t think I could get suspended for being rude. Could
Dr. Louis’ office was
covered with books and smelled like dust. "What did you
want to talk to me about?"
"I have some concerns
about your paper."
"What?" Somehow, I
had never considered that my paper itself was the
"You cite some very
interesting information here, but give no sources. Where
did you get this from?"
"A reliable source."
"What sort of source?
A textbook? A research paper you found online? It wasn’t
anecdotal, was it? Because anecdotal sources aren’t
adequate for your thesis."
I had worried about
this. But I told myself I would find sources confirming
what Eris had told me. There had to be something.
Then again this was
Eris. She could just be messing with me.
Or there was no Eris,
and all this was in my mind.
"If it turns out the
sources are fabricated, I’m afraid I will have to kick
you out of the program."
"What?" I screamed.
Dr. Louis jumped back. I was reminded of the way he had
looked at me in the taxi.
"I can’t be kicked
out of this program. I have worked so hard," I said
quietly. I thought of all the hours I had spent studying
and my tens of thousands of dollars of student loans.
"I’m not kicking you
out now, Cleo. That happens only if this information
turns out to be completely fabricated. You just need to
cite all of your sources and you will be fine."
"Okay, I will fix the
sources then. Thank you," I then exited the office
before he could chastise me for being rude.
"I can’t use any
of the information you gave me," I told Eris.
"Why not? It’s all
"Yeah, but I need
to cite sources in my paper."
"Cite me then."
"I can’t source a
thousands-year-old goddess in my head. Look, you will
have to leave earlier than I expected, as I was
partially keeping you here to help with the research.
You can still stay a few weeks, but I’m going to get the
ritual going as soon as I can."
"But I can be of use
to you. I can help you find actual sources. I have
mental links to all the texts written about me."
"That would be
amazing! How do I access them?"
"Nothing. Just talk
to me and I will give exact sources for texts around the
"Wait, how do I
know you aren’t making these up? If I can’t actually
access them, how do I know the sources are legit?"
"You will have to
trust me." I could practically see her shifty eyes in my
I narrowed my eyes. "You
are a goddess of chaos and deceit. I clearly can’t trust
you. Let me guess, you can’t mentally access the sources
unless I don’t make progress on the ritual, right? Or
you need more time than a few weeks?"
"I never hinted at
anything of the sort." Her tone told me she was thinking
of it though.
"I have read your
stories. I know what you are like. You can’t fool me
like you fooled other mortals years ago."
"And another thing,"
I continued. "You can’t keep influencing my actions.
I have yelled at professors and other students far more
times than I can count over the past few months. If they
didn’t like me before, they actively dislike me now. And
my room was perfectly neat before you came, and now look
at it." I hadn’t cleaned my apartment since this
mess started. I told myself I would get stuff done once
the ritual was finished. There were few spaces on the
floor that weren’t covered by piles of laundry or trash.
A tower of unwashed dishes filled my sink and some of
the space next to it.
"I didn’t do
anything, or purposely influence your thoughts in
anyway. You did this yourself."
"Yes. Because you
are in my head, and it is stressing me out."
"But even though I
influenced your actions, you still have the free will to
perform them yourself."
I narrowed my eyes,
sure I looked strange to anyone who passed me in the
hallway. "I suppose you could put it that way, but
that does not mean you are not responsible at all. Don’t
try to blame it all on others either. I suppose that is
how you live with all the awful things you have done."
I walked into my
office and locked the door. After several hours, I
finally managed to wring the instructions out of Eris by
offering trips as bribes. "There was more to your
involvement in the Trojan War than causing it. I have
read The Illiad countless times," I thought
solemnly, after I had finished. I felt my eyelids
drooping, as a constant undercurrent of irritation
rippled underneath my skin.
"Half that stuff is
all made up," she said, her voice tense.
I repeated the
passages from memory effortlessly. "She then hurled
down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked
through the onslaught making men's pain heavier."
Eris was quiet. "It
was a difficult time. The gods were sent to intervene.
And pain and misery were what I did best," she finally
"Can you just stop
acting like you are innocent and the mortals are the
only ignorant or cruel ones?"
"I never had any say
in what domain I was given control over. None of the
gods did. Ever since birth I was followed by disaster.
And I had a knack for causing it. That’s why the other
gods gathered up their power to lock me away, so that I
couldn’t exist without a vessel. But it wasn’t my fault.
It was the way I was born." It felt like Eris was
staring straight at me, although I could not see her.
"What would you do in my situation?" I heard her say.
"I have no idea.
I’m just a stupid mortal," I said, my pen pressing
hard into the paper as I wrote down the remaining
instructions for the ritual.
The plan was to throw
the mug off a cliff overlooking the ocean. The mug would
sink to the bottom where no one would likely see if
again, at least not for a very long time. I considered
burial, but then there was the chance someone’s dog
could dig it up. Better not to take any chances. And at
least this way Eris could watch the fish swim by.
Passerby gawked at me
as I murmured under my breath, holding a tourist mug out
in front of me. I muttered the whole ritual at least
five times in different inflections. Yet I could still
feel Eris’ uncharacteristically silent presence in my
something missing that you didn’t tell me, isn’t there?"
"Are you going to
tell me what it is?"
"You have to find
that out for yourself."
I almost threw the
mug over the cliff out of frustration right there, but
instead I just gripped the handle harder. I was going to
have to do some reading later.
I researched binding
rituals constantly for the next few weeks. Not that
there was much out there, but there was the occasional
reference to similar things in mythology. The ancient
Greek gods had been known to bind each other to objects
before, but of course there were no directions attached
to these stories. I had even begun looking up
instructions for Wiccan binding rituals once I got truly
Eris didn’t talk
much for once, and I often prodded the mug to see if I
had somehow managed to successfully bind her to it after
all. But she was still there, just silent.
"Why are you so
quiet?" I asked.
"I can sense
something has changed in your brain. I think I may have
gone and done my usual thing again by accident."
"What do you mean?"
I yelped, "What did you do to me?"
"I don’t know. I
didn’t mean to do anything, it just always happens."
happens?" My fingers dug into the wooden desk.
destroy themselves. And I don’t have to do a thing."
"What do you mean?" I
relaxed my fingers but felt a growing sense of unease.
Eris didn’t say
anything. It felt weird when she wasn’t speaking to me.
I hated to admit it, but I almost missed her when she
I looked at the
piles of junk around the apartment. An unhappy thought
dawned on me.
It had been over two
weeks since I had worked on my thesis or gone to
classes. I succeeded at getting work done at first, but
as I grew increasingly frustrated with trying to
complete the ritual, it became my sole focus. I hadn’t
even been checking my phone. I hesitated before looking
at my missed calls and texts. There was one from my mom,
concerned that she hadn’t heard from me in a while. That
wasn’t unusual, she always panicked if she hadn’t heard
from me in over a week. And there were ten calls from
He had never called
me before, except for once to plan the trip to Greece.
It felt as if my heart had stopped. Even Eris seemed to
tense up as I swiped to redial.
Dr. Louis picked up
on the first ring. "Hello? Cleo, where have you been? I
have been trying to reach you. Dr. Williams and Dr. Jane
told me you haven’t been to their classes in the last
two weeks, nor have you been to my class. And I haven’t
gotten any thesis updates from you," he said.
"I know, I’m sorry, I
got caught up doing research."
Dr. Louis sighed. The
next moments before he spoke seemed to last an eternity.
I was ready to pack my bags and return home to my
parents in that moment, sure my academic career was
Finally, he spoke.
"If you don’t make up the assignments you missed in the
next week, you will have to be put on academic
probation. I will work with you to make sure that
doesn’t happen, but remember that you still need to
attend classes, even though research is your priority."
"You aren’t kicking
me out then?"
The silence on the
other end almost made me regret my words. "Not unless
you fail to make up your missed homework in the next
week. Or miss any other classes."
"I won’t let you
down," I said, knowing I would have to set research on
the binding ritual aside for a while.
The list of missed
assignments was longer than expected. I would have to
start working on them right away. The oldest assignment
I had missed was a research essay based on several
readings on the Roman Empire we had to do for class. I
had not looked at any of the readings yet.
I scrolled through
the readings for a few minutes, then stared at a blank
document in Microsoft Word for almost an hour. Then I
began typing complete nonsense.
"That’s not right,"
"It was Cornelius
Scipio Africanus who led the Roman army in the battle of
Zama, not whatever you just typed. I would have assumed
that was basic knowledge. He would go to Zeus’ temple
all the time when Zeus was calling himself Jupiter. Some
spread rumors that he was Jupiter’s son, which could
have been the case, given how many kids he had."
"How can I trust
you? And how do you know this?"
"Look at your papers
again. It should all be there. I was reading the
assignments, even when you weren’t."
through the papers, I found that she was correct. "Huh.
I figured you were just making up supposed ‘hidden
"Well, the part about
Zeus wasn’t in the papers. I overhead that from
Aphrodite. She sure loves to gossip."
"Thank you. Maybe
you can actually help me." My fingers tapped on the
keys, as Eris talked in my head the whole time.
I didn’t sleep that
night. And when the sun rose in the sky I still hadn’t
completed the essay.
"This paper was
due two weeks ago. And Dr. Jane is notoriously strict
with deadlines. She is only not taking off points for
this one yet because Dr. Louis pulled some strings."
I felt my eyelids droop.
"How about this, I
refuse to shut up until you finish this paper."
"That sounds like
a good motivator," I said, grimacing. I typed faster
than I ever had before as Eris babbled on about all the
stupid things she "accidentally" caused mortals to do in
said, sometime around mid-morning.
"And that’s the time
I decided to annoy Hercules. As you can imagine it was
pretty entertaining… Wait you are done already?"
"Yes, it appears
so," I said, feeling a smile creep across my face
for the first time in a while. Then I fell asleep on my
continued for the next week. I would work constantly,
rarely stopping to sleep or eat, and Eris would refuse
to shut up until I finished, sometimes actually managing
to pass me useful information.
Sunday, while running completely on espresso, ramen, and
Eris yelling about how annoying Zeus was, I finished the
I sat there, staring
at the jumbled words on my screen, numb with shock. Then
I began to laugh, a loud, wild laugh that likely scared
"You kind of sound
like me," Eris said. I wasn’t even insulted. I just
printed out the essay, still grinning.
By the end of the
week, I was completely caught up on class work. My GPA
was ruined for the semester and I would likely have to
take an extra semester to finish my thesis, but the
university didn’t kick me out.
"Now we can
finally start on my thesis," I said to Eris in my
head, after turning in the final paper. But no one
responded. "Eris?" I asked, feeling oddly
desperate. She was annoying, but surprisingly helpful
over the last week.
I actually found
myself worrying about her as I drove home. Then the
response came. "Huh? I fell asleep," she said.
"You never used to
fall asleep before."
"Well you made me
talk constantly for a week, no wonder I am tired."
No work got done on
my thesis that night. In my burnt-out state, I only had
energy to zone out in front of the TV for the next few
hours. Eris spoke little.
I saw the "Someone in
Greece Loves Me" coffee mug sitting next to my head,
half full of espresso, and I smiled at it. "If only you
had done your job earlier, I wouldn’t be so behind on my
work," I said to the mug out loud. The mug said nothing.
It appeared talking to myself had become too much of a
habit to me.
I picked up the mug
and drank its remaining contents. I sat staring at it
for a long moment afterwards. On a whim, I began
performing the ritual Eris had told me. She stayed quiet
the whole time.
"I should probably
tell you that I left out a step the first time," she
"What? That would
have made my life so much easier," I thought, almost
throwing the mug across the room.
"Did you really think
I would tell you? And allow myself to be trapped for
another thousand years?"
"It was worth a
"I think I have done
enough damage now though. Besides, I am starting to get
bored. I need to find a new host. That mug is going to
wash up on shore eventually, after all," although her
tone indicated there was more she wasn’t saying.
In my mind, I glared
at her. But for some reason, I listened as she told me
the steps for the ritual.
After finishing the
procedure, nothing happened. "Eris, did you lie ag…" I
began to ay out loud, then suddenly, my head felt
slightly emptier. I don’t know how I knew, but Eris
wasn’t there anymore. The mug felt slightly heavier.
"Huh," I said to no
one. Suddenly, my apartment felt too large and a feeling
of loneliness settled on me. I had been working towards
this for a long time. Yet, I didn’t feel much of
I had always expected
to drive to the cliffs right away after completing the
ritual. But I let the mug sit on my desk for a few days.
It was raining, I told myself, and I didn’t want to deal
with walking outside in the dampness. Even though I had
never minded the rain before.
Finally, after three
days had passed, I drove down to the ocean. It was a
sunny, yet chilly day.
I found myself
standing on the cliff’s edge, coffee mug in hand,
dangling it from a couple of gloved fingers. It felt
like I stood there for hours, as the rare passerby
looked at me strangely.
If I removed the
gloves and touched the mug, Eris would come back. It
would be that easy. I didn’t know why I was even
considering such a thing, but there I was. My lack of
anyone to confide in in this town was nagging at my
mind. To my embarrassment, tears welled at the corners
of my eyes. An old lady walking her dog frowned at me.
I made a mental
promise to myself to try to live a normal life, after
this was all over. I would talk to the other graduate
students more, I would work harder on my thesis. I would
prove Eris’s feelings about mortals wrong.
The mug dangled from
only one finger now. I stared at it.
"Eris, you were a
pain, but you were kind of useful sometimes," I said out
loud without realizing it. After a pause, I continued,
"And I admit I actually enjoyed talking to you. As much
as an arrogant pessimist you were, you told some good
stories. And you helped me when you didn’t have to. You
could have stayed in my head forever, but you didn’t. I
hope whatever it is like in that cup, it isn’t too
uncomfortable for you. I… I have to say I’m sorry to see
you go." My finger gripped the mug tighter. "But I have
to live my life now and it would be difficult to do that
with you in my head forever. So, I guess this is
goodbye," I said.
I let the mug roll
off my finger. It bounced down the edge of the cliff
before sinking slowly in the ocean. It didn’t even chip,
staying intact during the whole, long journey down.
I stood at the edge
there for a while, with no noise in my head besides the
noisy caws of seagulls flying past.
Later, as I drove
home, my thoughts bounced around in my head, free to
move about, as the ocean grew smaller and smaller behind