I was in the middle of the Caribbean Sea on a huge ice freighter. I had been on the boat for at least two weeks now. These were long days filled with endless baby blue skies, crystal clear water that had a similar tone and lots of movies to escape the long days. My family and I were headed to Panama with a family friend, who was the captain of the ship, and his small crew. He was taking the ice freighter we were on back to Alaska and had to sail through the Panama Canal in order to do so.
That night had been like any other night. We had ate a meal prepared for us by our Filipino chefs. It consisted, like any other meal we ate on that trip, of pork and rice. After cringing at the sight of more rice, which we literally had rice every meal of the day, I swallowed my food without too much complaining and watched the day slowly turn into night. My parents would set up chairs off the rear deck of the boat, right above the engine so that they could look out at the sea we were moving across and the stars above us. There are infinitely more stars out at night when you are out at sea.
I had joined my parents out on the rear deck and I was leaning over the rail with my head and arms hanging down towards the water. I wasn’t even close to touching it nor was I close to falling off. I would extend my arms down as far as I could though, past the railing and try to catch the salty spray that came from the wake of the boat. At the time, I wondered what would happen if I did fall off and if I were sucked into the ocean below. I wondered if my parents would stop the boat and come back for me or if they would leave me. I knew this was a stupid question; obviously they would come back. But that scenario wasn’t as exciting for my imagination as one where I had to float out at sea until I came across a tropical island. Then, in my mind, I could have endless made up scenarios about what would happen next.
While I was lost in my thoughts, playing this game with myself to stay entertained, I happened to look up towards the sky instead of at the sea. In that moment, I watched with widened eyes as a giant flaming ball of rock fell from the sky. My mouth hung open. The black rock was cratered and I could see every outline as the fire that lit it highlighted the shape. It was perfectly round, even with the craters, and while it was clearly very far away, the rock was still huge which meant it had to be giant up close. It looked like something from a space movie, it was that perfect. And within a few seconds the glowing mass disappeared into the sea and was gone. There was no splash in the ocean, no dramatic burst of waves. It was just there and then it wasn’t.
“Did you see that?!” I shouted to both my parents pointing and waving my hands frantically.
“No…?” They replied confused.
“The giant fireball!” I tried to explain but words seemed to have left my brain. The flaming ball was etched into my vision still and I couldn’t shake it.
“I did.” Beason, one of the crew members, said to us.
“That was so cool! It was like… like… a star fell from the sky.” I was truly awestruck. Beason explained what both of us had saw to my parents while I continued to search the sky for more.
“Wow, a meteorite went into the ocean, huh?” My Dad did sound interested but not as interested as I thought he should be.
“Dad, you don’t understand,” I cut in. “It was huge!” He just smiled. I tried to explain it further but finally gave up when I kept stumbling over my own words. I realized it was something you had to see yourself; words were physically failing me in that moment. But Beason knew what it was like. And so did I. Beason gave me a knowing smile. I stared back at the portion of the horizon I thought I had watched it disappear into. I wondered what the meteorite was doing now. Was it sinking into the ocean? Landing on some coral reef somewhere while all the fish swam out of the way? It had to settle somewhere on the ocean floor.
“This is crazy,” I said out loud to whoever was listening at the time although no one paid much attention to me. I thought about what would happen to the star that fell from the sky. And later that night as the boat lulled me to sleep, I dreamt I was a one of the fish swimming near where the star had come to rest on the ocean floor.