ROCK BOTTOM • by Rebecca Iden

There must be others walking along the bottom of the ocean, but I’ve never seen anyone. It’s a big place. Light can only travel to a depth of about two hundred meters: I’ve been walking the Mariana Trench in total darkness, eyes wide and unseeing, feeling along the craggy rock with rotting fingers while eels wind around my ankles. The water, sharp with salt, has softened my skin until the flesh hangs from my bones in long ribbons.

I cannot surface; air is no longer hospitable to me. I feel you begging me, hands catching my hair, and I feel your angry hooks in my shoulders, but please, no more. You think there’s something left worth saving down here, but there isn’t, and I’m not asking to be saved. I walked into the ocean by my own free will, I pushed deeper when the waves lifted my hair from my shoulders, I whooped when I slid down the sandy hills of the Trench. I chose not to stop when the weight of the water was crushing my lungs.

Maybe one day I will feel the sand rise to meet my feet and I will walk out of the ocean the way I walked in: barely aware I was doing it.

Rebecca Iden is a screenwriter living in Minnesota with her husband and two cats.

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