Julia and The Sea: Short Story by Magda Olchawska
Julia was an autistic girl who lived in a small fishing town in Scotland. In a way, one could say that she was lucky enough not to be profoundly autistic, but on the other hand, she had sufficient autism to know that she was different from the other children she knew.
She was a kind and cheerful child. She loved numbers and could spend hours counting and then be recounting and counting again anything she set her eyes on.
Julia didn’t have any brothers or sisters. After having her, her parents were too afraid that the next child could have autism as well. So they never tried for another baby.
Her parents were caring and loving and very supportive of Julia, always ready to try anything to make her life easier.
Since early childhood, she loved walking, and she could walk for miles without ever stopping and resting. Her body coordination was excellent so she could do almost any physical task she set her mind to.
Like most autistic people Julia had difficulty with eye contact and found speech impossible to master. She didn’t talk in any language that humans could understand. But over the time she became very good at sign language which for many autistic people is the only way to be perceived.
Julia was one of the first children who took part in the experimental programme for autistic children. Nowadays almost every autistic child is on some plan, but in those days, it was a rarity. The programme helped her enormously and most of all it gave her social skills, which otherwise she would never have had.
The years were going by, and as most kids do, she was growing up fast, which is always terrifying for their parents.
I know what doctors and other specialists say about autistic people: “they don’t feel lonely” and “they don’t need friends” and “they have no imagination”. Well, Julia had plenty of imaginary friends and felt lonely quite often. In fact, the older she became, the more isolated she felt. When she felt lonely, she loved walking by the sea. The sound of waves always calmed her down.
Julia also liked talking to the Angels who were her friends from the day she was born. To communicate they used a made-up language, which only she and they could understand. Her parents never really bothered her about Angels. Because Julia had autism, she was allowed to be more eccentric than most people.
The Angels always told her incredible stories about life in heaven and how great it was to be flying above the earth observing people. In return, Julia told them how hard it was to be amongst people, how she always felt that she didn’t belong to them and how she didn’t feel any connection with humans.
One day when she was a teenager, the Angels introduced her to the mermaids, the beautiful creatures living in the deep wild sea. Shortly afterwards the angels disappeared. However, Julia wasn’t sad that the Angels left because befriending mermaids changed Julia’s life entirely and forever.
Since that day Julia started spending hours on the beach looking at the waves and talking to the sea, which always spoke back to her.
People saw her communicating with the sea, and for some reason, known only to those who initiated the rumours, the villagers started believing that she was blessed with healing powers.
The town people started approaching Julia asking to put her hands on them. Due to Julia’s autism, any physical contact was very difficult for her. However, Julia didn’t mind touching people if they weren’t well. Apparently, her magical touch always helped.
The word about her magical and healing powers spread around the country quite fast, and people began demanding to see Julia without even realising how exhausting it was becoming for her.
Quite quickly the situation became overwhelming for Julia and her parents. She couldn’t go to the sea as the visitors were surrounding the house and the beach. Julia was heartbroken as she couldn’t see and talk to the mermaids.
Her parents decided that she should go and visit the mermaids at night. This way no one would bother Julia and either her mum or her dad would always be by Julia’s side, just in case she needed them.
Even though Julia was happy to be by the sea,
it wasn’t the same. There was always pressure and danger that someone could see her.
Julia became worn-out from all those people who were around her and as a result, she started getting sick herself. Still, the people outside her home didn’t understand her situation and condition. They were insisting that Julia would come out and share her gift with the rest of the world.
One night while walking by the sea, the sea started calling her. The calling was stronger than ever before, and Julia had no other choice but to follow her yearning.
She kissed and hugged her father goodbye and walked into the waves of a dark deep blue sea.
Her father didn’t even try to stop Julia because he knew she had to go. Finally, Julia was going to be happy. Julia’s happiness was the most important thing to him. That stormy night she became one of the mermaids.
Her parents used to visit her all the time, and for the first time in their life, they were able to hear her beautiful singing voice.
During one of the visits, Julia told her parents her real story: “God made a mistake sending her as a human because she was always a mermaid stuck in a human’s body. That is why she had all those problems with her physical body.”
However, she didn’t regret her human life because she had the best parents in the whole world who were able to understand her and let her go when she had to.
When the time was right for her parents to go too, they decided to join Julia in the sea.
The story happened many, many years ago. None of the people who knew Julia is still alive.
Sometimes some people say that they can still see a girl who walks by the sea in the mist. They believe this is Julia.
If you are by the sea and you want to see Julia, you have to squint your eyes tightly and wait.
She always appears.