This is the first in a series of stories that I am publishing in the next issue of Somnambulist. These are all stories of being stuck...physically, metaphorically, spiritually. I have done a watercolor portrait for each story.
If you'de like to buy a subscription to Somnambulist, visiti the shop section or my Patreon Page.
Here is Deirdre's story. Thanks Deirdre!
"There have only been two times in my life where I thought I was going to die. Both times I was stuck and both times I experienced complete acceptance descend upon me like a wave of lightness filling my being. Because of this I am not afraid of death, just illness and doctors.
The first time it happened I was nine and at my Granddad Jack's house in Maine. My little sister and I spent every day running around a small stretch of stony beach, nimbly jumping like mountain goats from rock to barnacle covered rock. There were certain hazards to be avoided. Such as where the waves crashed relentlessly against a slick, small cliff, and the ever present danger of a swiftly rising tide or swell. "Never disrespect the sea," our Granddad said. "Never turn your back on her."
One treacherous spot was a small hole, hollowed out, straight through one of the rocks closest to the breaking waves. It was just the right size for a child's wet sneakered foot to slip into, right up to the knee. Our Mom told us to avoid it, for fear of broken ankles. I'd fallen in before and suffered scrapes, but that was all. Usually we remembered it's location but on this day I forgot or was distracted, I cannot remember which. I also must have grown. When my foot slipped in I felt the slimy, unyielding rock cut into my shin with a burst of pain and almost immediately warm blood began to mix in my shoe with cold seawater. The salt stung in my wound. I tried to yank my leg out but found I was stuck fast. My sister ran over and pulled on me with all of her seven-year-old weight, but my leg would not budge. Worst of all the sun was starting to set and the tide was coming in. We weren't supposed to play so close to the edge when the tide was rising. I worried we would get into trouble and implored my sister to pull harder.
As the dark, icy water rose from my ankle to my shin and finally to my knee, I realized we needed a grown-up. "Go get Mom!" I told my sister. "Run! Run as quick as you can and make her come back with you!" Our mother was prone to thinking her children were dramatic con artists and was often slow to respond to emergencies, especially if she was cooking dinner.
I watched as my sister's blond curls bobbed as she jumped from stone to stone, clambered up a small ledge and started off down the meadow path to Granddad's house. Now I was alone. The sky was grey and pink and gold. It shown on the water, black islands moored in the distance. The air smelled of brine and fish and pine and wet. Marker buoys rang, the dock creaked and sighed over swells while seagulls watched me from their roosts. They were my only company, not even any boats motored past to witness my predicament. The water now covered the rock completely, up to my knees and the waves were coming closer. I began to think I might die and thought with sadness of how my Mom never believed me. I started to cry but then realized I didn't want to spend my last moments crying. I looked out over the water and realized how lucky I was to be in my favorite place in the whole world. It was so beautiful and there I was, all by myself in a unique position from which to enjoy it. My legs were too cold from the water to feel pain so I was in no discomfort. I recalled all the times I had attempted to will myself to be able to breathe underwater and decided that when the waters submerged me I would breathe deep to finally experience what it would be like to be a fish. The fact that I could know this before death filled me with joy. To struggle and fight, to hold my breath, would mean to only experience pain, but there was so much more than that to be found out during my death. I looked out on the world with love and felt at peace.
The water was above my waist when I felt warm, strong hands grab under my arms from behind. My mother was there and she pulled me up, out of the stone. My sister was with her. My legs were too numb for me to walk. Mom carried me home, my arms wrapped around her neck.
The second time it happened I was twenty-two and stuck on a thin, cement block median between six lanes of chaotic traffic in Bangalore, India. Two buses were barreling towards me. Once again I felt total acceptance. ."