Esy Yeal - Nature's Outlet

Stormwater had carried the sins of St Kilda into the sea, where plastic bags, bikes, food wrappers, multi-species faeces, and used condoms accumulated and flushed through the outlet. The fair-weather swimmers had long abandoned these waters, leaving only dog walkers, fishermen, and adventurous souls like myself. 

The cold water and empty beaches held an appeal for me. With Scottish descent and porcelain skin, I’m more suited to navigating the sea’s underbelly than basking in the sun. Despite a misspent youth, my lung capacity remained above average, and I took pride in holding my breath for up to three minutes. 

Undeterred by floating debris and shielded by grey clouds, I ventured towards deeper waters. Under the pier, I weaved around wooden pillars. The caress of algae on my fingers felt like some underwater vixen, flirting, guiding me deeper into something greater.

Then, the storm arrived, unleashing its fury upon the serene underwater realm. Waves churned, threatening to swallow me whole. Survival hung by a thread as I fought against the raging currents, struggling for breath. 

Hope slipped away until a shadowy figure emerged. A majestic stingray glided towards me, defying the storm’s fury. It became my unexpected saviour. With a flick of its tail, it manoeuvred through the tumultuous currents, offering stability amidst the chaos. I clung to its smooth back, finding solace in its strength. It swam with wisdom, navigating treacherous waters and defying the conditions. It possessed an innate understanding of the ocean’s secrets, a guardian of its depths. Through crashing waves and roaring thunder, the stingray led me to safety.

 Finally, with a surge of triumph, we reached the shallows. The storm gradually subsided, giving way to the serenity of the calm waters. Gratitude swelled within me as I looked into the dark, soulful eyes of my saviour. As I dismounted, tears welled up; I understood this was a rare glimpse of true nature. Manoeuvring around my gentle guardian, I momentarily lost balance and accidentally stepped on its dorsal fin. I heard a strange yelp, followed by violent hissing and a ferocious whipping sound.

It took me a while to realize that my clumsiness had caused an involuntary strike from the stingray’s venomous tail. As I lay gasping my final breaths, I watched the beast shuffle angrily back into the sea. I couldn’t help but appreciate that my once-savior had inadvertently become the harbinger of my demise. It seemed as though nature had a way of balancing the scales.