JACOB BUSH

JACOB BUSH

JACOB BUSH

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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