From his schoolbook, the boy tore out a map of seas. The teacher with her sunny face and scraped-back hair wasn’t looking. The blues were beautiful. He’d never seen a real sea. Only his grandfather, a fisherman, had. He took the page with him to Barranco de las Vacas, a gorge carved by water into ochre and curved into smoothed volcanic walls. He walked down to the river bed with no river until he reached the gorge. The nesting birds screamed and flapped. He was wearing flip-flops with stars and shells glued to them. He slipped and fell. The map of seas lifting from his fingers.
When he arrived home his grandfather was in the wicker chair. The same wicker chair where he had been rocked by his mother. The boy sunk his face into his hands. The grandfather wrapped him inside his mermaid tattoos.
I’ll paint the sea for you. He took a crooked finger and drew a perfect circle in the air with shapes inside and called them waves. Now close your eyes and see how the waves break open and hurl their foam. He then sang a song about the world, round and round, about how it used to be flat and the boy felt a salty breeze against his cheek and remembered the rippling sound, the tipping of his mother’s womb.