Written for my advanced narrative class.
When he was still and silent, that's when it all came crashing down around him like waves of the sea, pinning him until he could feel the sand swirling at his back and salt in his lungs, and then he would exhale in a mad rush and it would come out of his throat like fire. Then somewhere in the process he would become smoke and drift for a moment while it molted and changed within him and he was stretched thin by the ever moving weight. It was heavy and he was light, and he would try to distract himself as molecules do, by bouncing and jittering through space and time until he was in two places at once, and then nowhere, not existing, an observer to his own raging heart.
He knew that it was insubstantial as vapor, and yet it chased him and forced him into corners where he could not escape, captured his eyes and senses and when there was no sound, he could not distract from it, and could see the whole emptiness in all of its glory. When there was sound, he could make himself feel different, make anything into a story or a puzzle that could riddle his being and make his moments glorious and self defined, but it was in silence that he knew everything was real, because the silence never changed and always waited, and when he wasn't pretending sound, when he couldn't force his voice any longer or stand the songs on the radio, he would sit still and feel the ocean and cry.
He had tried thinking about it but thoughts did not explain it and led him in circles where the in was out, and no answer could change it because it wasn't really a question, it was an event that could not be resolved. He had acted briefly upon it but his actions had simply resulted in a new job and new clothes but nothing stopped what was really a trial of time. All things have a process, he would say, this is a process and some day I will not drown anymore but each day was a different river and a different crossing and he had walked back and forth a thousand times but still, somehow, he was in the same place. And so he had taken to making noise, making life, making bright, beautiful things that charmed him and spoke softly to him about meaning and direction, so that when drifting to sleep at night he had only a spare few minutes before he was unconscious and doing what dreamer's do best.
He had tried to explain it in various ways but certain oceans do not have words and he could not describe the sensation of suffocating. He didn't want to breathe but he had to, he had to process through it but there were no rules and no boundaries in the depths of the waters that would rise and toss him back and forth, until he turned up the TV or got in the car and then there would be the peace of moving somewhere, but he couldn't move forever, and in stillness he had nothing but himself. He knew each day was a blessing. He didn't take life for granted and he didn't want to die but he couldn't help the tug and pull of his heart and the rushing blood and the way it whispered when he couldn't bear it any longer, let it end, let something end, oh god, or let it begin but don't leave me here and he would pray but he knew that not even prayers could part an ocean this deep. He could only continue sailing, he could only move with the breeze and the sound of his own breath and tell himself tomorrow, tomorrow, another day, tomorrow, I am alive.