The Water-Sprite

The inspiration for this oddity is manifold: the title is a tribute to "The Wood-Sprite" by Nabokov, an unassuming little story by his standards. Yet it speaks of feral innocence and its irrevocable loss with such pristine words, so redolent of a child's summertime solitude, that I rarely get to the end of it without tearing up. 

Then there are details taken from an actual dream of mine, where indescribable, miles-deep rage suddenly opens a door to blissful levity; an idiot friend candidly dismissing the idea that her senior mother could have any life other than babysitting grandchildren; myself having once been a complete idiot with my own dearest, dazzling late mother in a different way, and my remorse for it ... Yet, the catalyst to combine all these disparate elements was my first encounter with a Portuguese man o'war. 

After my introduction to scuba-diving, I'd been obsessed with ocean documentaries, and when one night the TV screen lit up with this bewitching creature, which is actually four distinct creatures placidly drifting in the open sea, my blood quickened. Ten minutes later, as I was fiercely brushing my teeth,* the story came to me.

*(Not sure why, but tooth-brushing has a key role in my creative process.)

Portuguese man o'war.jpg

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