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Aqueous

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He lay on the cold sand as the waves muttered and lapped and the gulls screamed out of a low, grey sky. The ocean mirrored the firmament forming an unbroken, dreary blur. The tide advanced slowly over a short reach of sand, ending abruptly at the promontory. He considered staying put and letting the ocean swallow him. But a minute part of him still wanted to breathe air, wanted to believe it could breathe air. Besides, it would take ages.
The sand chafed between his toes as he tottered down the beach. It made him tingle in the worst way. But the tingling stopped as he paused to examine a dead seal. It was supine and slick. Its face was loose, unlike his own, which was taut as a nervous ruminant’s. He looked into its marble eyes and was overcome with envy. He sighed and stumbled on. Before he left, he gazed at the ocean. The water looked beautiful.
He drove solemnly along the edge of the sandstone precipices. His station wagon caressed the road as the hull of a boat gliding over the pelagic deep. He could see that boat—a floating sepulcher cutting through open water. As in a nightmare, some massive geological upheaval would rise from the deep forming a wall around which there was no way. How beautiful the wreck would be: water swelling up to envelope the delicate skiff, bringing it the watery peace it needed.
The fog became thicker and more oppressive. The lump in his throat swelled. His hands shook violently no matter how tightly he gripped his steering wheel. The fast, sibilant static of his car’s radio echoed the entropy in his head. In his cup holder sat the mostly-full pill bottle, prescribed to him by an expressionless doctor in a white lab coat. He cringed at their solidness. There were gaps of empty space, precious little voids, between the pills and the sides of the bottle. If the bottle were filled with water there would be no emptiness, he thought. Water cures emptiness.
He pulled over and parked a foot from the edge of the cliff. He stepped out of his car and onto the hard ground. It seemed as though the breeze were rotting his skin in whispers. His chest’s cardiac staccato blared over the slow beating of the waves below. He inhaled. The air was too thin. His lungs may as well have been porous; there was nothing the air could do for him anymore. He knew this was not normal. No, it was “clinical.” But that did not make it any less real. He traced with his eyes the land falling steeply away into the murk where he could swear he saw an outline of his body quickly fading away.
He shifted all his pressure onto his left leg and let the right one dangle off the
edge. He closed his eyes. His mind went quiet as he struck this yoga-like pose.
He saw the seal. He saw its whiskers that would never again twitch. He saw its eyes that would never again swivel around in its skull. He saw the imagined boat sinking delicately through the dark abyss, cracked into pieces but more whole than ever. His heartbeat found the waves’ tempo, dutiful and unhurried. His mind was flooded with a numbing euphoria. The water looked beautiful…



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