Ailsa Bristow’s story “Tides” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 31 December 2021.
I wrote the first draft of ”Tides” in 2017. In its first iterations, it was very closely focused on the unnamed protagonist. I’m interested in questions of fate and free will, what we inherit vs. what we choose for ourselves. I wanted to explore a tense relationship between mother and daughter, and explore the urge to rebel against familial duty. And, because my brain is my brain, the idea of a fairytale or myth made the most sense to me.
I’ve always been fascinated by the sea: I remember being told once that growing up in the UK you’re never more than 60 miles from the ocean. I love its beauty and respect its power; and I love the stories and legends that shape the way we look at the sea. I don’t think using the idea of the sea as a personified being was a conscious choice, but something that just clicked for me.
As the story grew and changed under multiple revisions I know that many other themes that interest me worked their way into the story. Both the protagonist and Adam have left their homes, and I look at the way they try to make a new home together in a place that neither of them belong to. I can see a lot of my own climate anxiety and feelings of powerlessness come through in Adam—the question that echoes beneath this story is, perhaps, what are we willing to sacrifice in order to do the right thing? Adam says all the right words, but it is the protagonist who ultimately gives up the things she has fought for so fiercely.
As a writer, I love working on the stories that feel like a mystery to me as they are being written. The process of revising this story has been a process of getting clearer and clearer about who these characters are, and why they make the choices they make. That these characters continue to live and breathe in my imagination, four years after they first took root there, seems to me part of the magic of being a writer.
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