Changing Tides

"This will always be your home."

The world, my world has

been flipped upside down

in the eighteen turns

the moon took since I was

last thrown out in the

ocean without a paddle.

Back then, an iron chain

linked me to an anchor,

dragging me into the cold,

deep water. My peripherals

blurred and darkened,

my breath diminished

under the increasing pressure.

I was scared, looking for

someone to save me, pull me

from the ocean. Breaking

the chain was impossible

because my muscles and

motor neurons were failing.

All I could do is

continue swimming with

the hope that I could

slip the links holding

me under. I didn't know

how much longer I could

keep going, but I had to.

My last thoughts were about

how my bindings were forged.

The metals were prepared

over a span of twenty years.

Each piece contained

bits and pieces of the lives

of the people who assembled it.

The first stretch was

heated with the anger

of a loveless marriage.

Smelting fires were being

stoked by two people

who had no place

playing with fire.

Its length had been doubled

in the years since. However,

the chain wasn't meant

to be this long. An anchor

wasn't part of the original

design. No one was meant

to be held captive without hope.

This chain was supposed to

be used in emergencies.

Its purpose, to pull others

out of the mud and quicksand

and take them to safety. It was

supposed to live on a wall

until that single instance occurred.

This extra length was added

instantaneously. What was

once a tool of safety, had

been turned into something that

would keep a dog in the backyard.

My chain now had parts whose

purpose was to hurt others.

One single shackle was added

to an end of the chain that

would become part of my

right ankle. It looked medieval

as if it could only be locked and

unlocked by an ancient

key, passed down the generations.

The other end was attached

to a radiator. I was kept at

arms' length, enough to see

society and consume bits

and pieces of the outside

world. My life was devoted to

finding the key.

I almost found it a few times,

hoping that maybe it had been

separated from the lock.

Perhaps it had been on someone

else's person. Maybe it

was lost in a jewelry box

or in a random junk drawer.

Sixteen months ago, I thought

it was hidden amongst the

books in a full shelf right

in front of me. What if words

obscured its location and all

I needed to do was read

between the lines.

I found a rusted skeleton key

as I was about to be dragged

away. My search allowed

my captors to catch me off

guard, exacerbating my

anxieties and desperation

to a fault, blinding me.

When I came to, I was at the

edge of a boat next to a

massive anchor. My chain

was now connected at the

top of my new companion.

The length separating me

from it was completely submerged.

Open water stretched for miles

around me, black and frigid.

The full moon pierced the

darkness, revealing who

isolated me here. Eighteen

people stared down from

the upper deck, ready to move.

Two of them looked like they

didn't want to be here. A

woman was clearly in distress

with a gun held to her back,

the man holding it in rubbish

clothing smirked at the sight

of me at my end.

The other man next to her looked

like he was at the end of his

rope. He slumped over the

rail of the boat. A knife

gleamed in the moonlight,

blood flowed to its hilt before

he fell overboard.

I was about to meet

my bitter end at the hands

of the rest of the crowd.

They moved for me and the

anchor with a chorus of

laughs resonating through

the salty air.

Taking off like a jet through

the water, the anchor led

the chain and then me

through the ocean's depths.

My hope quickly faded like

the moonlight shining above

the surface I desperately reached at.

A flicker of optimism kept

me in stasis the whole time.

Thoughts and feelings were

numbed by the cold, I was

barely breathing. The last hope

started to wane, giving me my

last chance, my last breath of life.

For whatever reason, these last

feelings made me realize there

was a foreign object separating

the cloth of my wet pocket and

my skin. It was small and solid.

Heat rushed through my veins, my

pulse accelerated life.

Devoting all of my strength

to my right arm, I plunged

my hand into my pocket.

I wrapped my cold, pruned

fingers around a thin piece

of metal, a key. It got caught on the

fabric on its way to freedom.

I let out my final breath with

a cascade of bubbles rising

to the surface as I bent my

arms and torso to my shackled

ankle. Trying to make the pieces

of metal meet, I struggled

against the liquid forces exerted on me.

The struggle turned into a clatter

between the two. The key fit

and I was free. I rose to the

surface with my remaining

breath as my bindings sank

to a final resting place.

I broke the water, coughing for my life.

I was free but alone and ready to

go anywhere. All I wanted to

do was float on the water and

breathe. But I reached into

the pocket holding my key to find

a laminated note. I smiled,

cried in joy and sadness and floated on.

"This will always be your home."


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