Why We Come Up

An Essay By Sarah Bethany // 2/9/2015

It is a slow fall into bed. Finally my back hits the slimy comforter.

I lie at the silty bottom of the expanse looking up at the mud-green sky. Bubbles froth out of my mouth: little popping balls of glass, each one containing a breath of my soul. I keep them in as long as I can, and part with them regretfully like the click of a clock.

Nothing speaks. Not I, not anything. A baby pinecone, lodged in the sand. My shoulderblade against it. My hair balloons out like the syrupy petticoat of a jellyfish. Gelatinous non-polyp.

My eyes screwed wide open, my mouth shut tight, arms out. No one can hear me. No one can see me. For sixty seconds I stop existing. The blue has swallowed me up, suctioned me in: on the surface are refracted triangles of light and ruddy cabins and stalactite pines. On the surface, screaming: orange vests, caustic plastic, shrill whistles, polyester yellow bathing suits.

Down here, silence. I am swathed in a womby shift, soft and luscious. Hush. Swush. Swipe. Little ripple of my hair. My heel falls involuntarily and taps a rotted leaf. It is enough to disintegrate the offal into a smoldering puff.

Where there was scorching air on my arms and legs, there is now mild water. I see all in abstraction. A wavering mushroom-yellow filter, a bouncing ceiling. Anything surfacey is blurred, is opiated. And the thick heartbeat of the lake - thrub, thub, thrub - is primitive in my eardrum. Burdens flake off me and instantly decay. Nothing is required of me. No one demands. No one pokes. No one finds.

Oh, I am obliterated. Playing with the fraying strings of responsibility; I am cradled. It is trance-inducing, and the light of the sun only keeps me conscious, like a dancing mobile above a crib.

Then my lungs give a buzzing whir, a warning - bells that are wired start knocking. A burning tightness crawls up my throat. I kick. Do I surface because of evolution? Do I surface because I must check the list of twelve campers off, because of guilt, because of twenty-four years of machinery habit? Or - I would like to think - maybe for the pleasure of breaking the sun; for my crown shattering the ceiling of diamonds. Maybe to feel the heat skidding along my arms, evaporating the beads of wet. You cannot cry underwater, so maybe to cry. Maybe to - later - drag the lake for my exoskeleton, and find it and pull it onto shore.

And then to step into it.

Comments

You are easily one of the

You are easily one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This was phenomenal. I didn't understand what was happening until the very end, when all the pieces clicked together, but when I did it propelled me to start over and savor each word, to really understand. Your word choice and phrasing can only be described as luscious. The writing is so rich and full-bodied and wholly complete. You manage to write with such vivid, evocative detail without being elusive. This was just gorgeous, and it's hard to describe, exactly, the experience I had while reading it. I saw everything with perfect clarity, felt it, even. The background fell into place around me and I was absorbed and suddenly within the story. It was simply beautiful! If you get the opportunity, you MUST submit this to a literary journal of some sort! I can't say enough things about it!

Madeline | Mon, 02/09/2015

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Breathless. Beautiful. And I

Breathless. Beautiful. And I agree with everything Homey said :)

Maddi | Mon, 02/09/2015

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

This is all kinds of

This is all kinds of incredible. I can't pick a favorite part because the whole thing is my favorite (well, I do like the word "opiated". I will have to use that one). Really, you are a special writer.

Erin | Mon, 02/09/2015

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

This is amazing!

This is an extraordinary piece of work that had my mind reel with images! Your wording caused such a lovely escape from everyday life and I loved, loved, loved this! Homey couldn't have worded it better, this is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Each word was so carefully placed, like a delicate and amazingly gorgeous puzzle!
This is awe inspiring, truly!

Kassady | Tue, 02/10/2015

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

This is just wonderful talent

This is just wonderful talent for words and images. It's deep, but not so deep that the message can be easily muddled, leaving me confused. You end it so amazingly. I don't think I can really describe how well you write.

Lucy Anne | Tue, 02/10/2015

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Guys, wow --

-- your comments mean so much to me. Each is a gem. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have all instilled so much confidence in me, and I read each comment multiple times. <3

(And, Homey, thank you for all of your detailed compliments in particular. It really stuck with me. I will consider the literary journal idea!!)

Sarah Bethany | Sun, 03/15/2015

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