Amelia Earhart at the Red Sea
Originally published by Saint Julian Press
At the Red Sea, she is surprised to discover the sea not at all red but blue. Not even remotely crimson as she always allowed herself to imagine. Not like the burning sun she’s spent years attempting to capture.
“Why would they call it red if it’s blue?”
“Let me tell you about the Red Sea,” Fred says. They sip tea on green chairs in Massawa, the last stopping point in Africa, the temperature of that night air one hundred and six degrees. “The Israelites simply called it ‘the sea.’ To others it was the ‘Arabian Gulf.’ And since the sea itself isn’t actually red, people have naturally speculated about the name. Some say it comes from a bad translation of ‘Reed Sea,’ as described in the Bible.”
“But at certain times of year, some report red-looking mountains near the shore. They claim that seasonal blooms near the surface give an illusion of red. The final theory, of course, is that red simply refers to the south.”
She gazes toward that bluish Red Sea, watches the hues of it shift in the last of the late daylight, says, “I was expecting this all to play out so differently. I feel like a different woman here. There is this sudden shift. A need to not go back.”
The sun is now dipping behind Fred. He turns to Amelia with knowing eyes, looked into his tin cup then adds, “Isn’t that what you wanted?”
The bright morning following the blue of the Red Sea, before flying, she has to feel it for herself. Dip her toes into that water of mystery, know for once the truth. Has it been playing tricks?
Once Fred sets off for fuel, she finds herself reeling with the curiosity of a child. And in native grey skirt, a gift from an admirer, she runs alone toward that water’s edge. Laughs at her odd reflection in the rippling rim of the world’s northernmost tropical sea, the sea Herodotus in his leniency toward fairy-tale motifs referred to as the Southern Sea.
She dances there in that early morning blush. Wonders why she’d waited so long to live. Imagines herself in a streaming hot bath as she runs alongside the circles of red fish.
The moment she dances into that coral reef, her quiet is broken in two by the calls of a sharp voice.
“Amelia! We’ve got to be off.” Fred’s voice can be heard from a distance. “Monsoon threats.” He flags Amelia using both arms.
The sky as she looks up to it does in fact roll toward them with a dim new weight. Fred’s calculations are accurate.
She looks down to her dress, the wet grey of it no longer carefree but a weighted garb that only harnesses and disquiets her.
She has been found in her most private of moments, discovering exactly who she is.
Copyright © Anne Tammel 2012
First published by Saint Julian Press, "Amelia Earhart at the Red Sea" is a work of fiction. In this short segment, taken from an upcoming fiction series about Isa, a Los Angeles-based writer haunted by recurring dreams about missing women. Isa has experienced recurring dreams about Amelia, including Amelia's final voyage and her whereabouts. After signing up for a series of life-or-death adventures in faraway locales, Isa must face her own worst fears, and risk everything in order to expose the women's unsolved mysteries and stop the dreams. In this short segment, author Anne Tammel paints a picture of Amelia Earhart's final journey, which has come to Isa in a series of dreams. Through a portrayal of Isa and her dreams, Tammel retraces the crucial stops of Amelia's fateful voyage, and explain reasons behind her disappearance.