You resurface. Your hair feels like a trawler net. Caught within it are shells, splinters of shipwrecks and shards of glass from broken messages in a bottle. At least this is the way it feels to you, when you finally dinglehopper your fingers through it. The store lights seem too bright. They still seem to refract and stretch, as if you are viewing them from just beneath the surface, neck tilted upwards. Your limbs feel heavy; your ears full of water. Your clothes feel like they are clinging to perma-wet skin. You feel barefoot; every footstep seems to pool and puddle. You wonder if you smell of the sea; or the rot of raw humanity. You think ‘you have to eat’ but the shelves are full of dead things for live people and all you wish they sold was air, as you feel the world, like a whale-bone corset, lacing up your back.
You notice strange figures as you move through the aisles: wet-suited, flipper-footed; goggles filled with tiny fish cover their eyes. They carry oxygen on their backs and not one is gasping for air. As they pass you, they raise their hand, their index finger pressed against their thumb: OK?
Liz Wride is a writer from Wales. Her work has appeared in Milk Candy Review, Okay Donkey Magazine, Cabinet of Heed and others. In 2015, her short fiction ‘Potato’ was shortlisted for the ELLE UK Talent Awards.