My earliest memories were of the sea. I was a young boy of ten, frolicking about. I would often stare into the sea wondering where it ended. What lay beyond the abyss?
I used to collect shells and make necklaces and give them to my sisters as gifts. They never wore the necklaces but would always give me a hug in return for the gifts.
One shell was particularly marvelous. If you put your ear to it you could hear the ocean no matter where you were. To this day I put my ear to that shell. To this day I wonder about where the ocean leads.
I am in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the largest natural reef in the entire world. Each cluster of this reef contains ecosystems within ecosystems. A single spot of oil could destroy miles and miles of the reef.
Our boat is in the Middle of the ocean. We are given snorkeling equipment, paddles, an air tube and the like. We were also given floats but I refused as I am an expert in swimming.
I dive into the sea.
It’s the most beautiful site that I have ever seen. Corals glisten against the sunlight which barely passes through the water. Fish jump in and out of their homes.
There goes Nemo brushing his fins against a colourful coral. There goes a jellyfish out and about his day’s duties.
Some plants move, making it seem as though the corals, rigid as a rock, are moving instead.
As I swim I remember my boyhood days. The shells I used to collect. My sisters next to me.
I wish I was a boy once again. A boy who didn’t know the harsh realities of the world.
As I swim I have the sudden urge to touch a coral. We were told not to touch them. As beautiful as a coral may look, as poisonous it could be.
But I want to touch one and see how they feel. I spot a sunset orange coral. I go towards it, my arms outstretched. My fingers touch the tips of the coral.
In an instant everything disappears. The corals around me shred to dust. The tourists fade away into thin air.
The memories of the accident come rushing back. I was in the passenger’s seat when we hit the truck. The ambulance. The amputation.
Both legs gone.
I shriek and as I do, two assistants come and pull me out of the virtual reality. My Oculus Rift is yanked out from my head.
“Are you alright sir?” One assistant asks as he brings my electric wheel chair to me.
“I’m okay. That session was better than most,” I reply as I hop onto the wheel chair.
“I’m glad you liked it sir.”
This was my third session with the virtual reality centre. I have been unable to walk for the past ten years. I had an accident while I was travelling in Australia.
Unable to walk, but always yearning to travel.
The virtual reality studio along with the Oculus Rift made my travelling dreams possible. I can now explore the Pyramids of Giza, walk through the streets of Paris and swim in the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s amazing how technology can improve lives.
Tomorrow I will come back and finish my coral exploration.
Then where will I go? To the Northern Lights perhaps?
Only time will tell.
This is a work of fiction.
Source of keychain: Souvenir shop in Cairns, Australia.