Emma Tovar’s “Seabound” evokes a lot imagery, beginning with the title. The ocean is generally associated with relaxation, calm, and dreaminess. The title uses this to set the expectation for something beautiful and possibly adventurous.
The first sentence sparked my curiosity because it opened up a world of possibilities. Why would Tovar want to go unnoticed? Why, specifically, did she learn that eye contact is the thing that should be avoided to pass notice? What is going to happen in her story to make her want to slide under the radar? With one sentence, she made me want to read more so that I could find the answers. The remainder of the first paragraph created a few more things which compelled me to read on for answers: who is Seabird? Why didn’t the lack of eye contact work with Seabird, and is this a good or bad thing? With two simple sentences, I wanted to follow the path the author setup.
Despite the word count restraints, Tovar creates a lot of visuals for the reader. There are the obvious visuals that are painted, such as the “steep path towards the large boulder” on which she sits in paragraph two. In the next paragraph, she makes good use of dialogue to show the kind of person Seabird is. The phrase “What do you see out there? Don’t keep those thoughts locked up in your head. I want to know what you’re thinking” displays that he values Tovar’s thoughts, and validates her worthiness. It creates someone who is an ally, and a mentor, even before the latter description is clarified.
I would have liked to read more about Tovar, and why she suffered from Imposter Syndrome. Perhaps that could have been examined in lieu of, “Seabird was my professor for a marine biology program and he immediately struck me as the ‘cool’ professor. His calm demeanor paired with an informal teaching style made for easy learning.” I feel that this has already been hinted in the dialogue, and in the way he took time out to look for her.
The closing is strong in showing Seabird’s impact on Tovar. He not only validates her interest in the field, but remains someone who encourages her growth by always asking what she is thinking about. Ending the piece with this question wraps up the piece nicely, as it connects to the questions he poses to set up the story.