I am going to drown, or be eaten, but it’s the chapped lips I keep worrying at.
I can’t keep swimming toward the thin steady line of shore and fuss over my bleeding leg, but my teeth can play at the dry flaking ruin of my lips. And they do, because it’s focus on that pain, or acknowledge the exploratory touches of marine life below me which I can neither see or fend off.
I was on a boat, but the splinters and crumbling, smoking remains of that vessel float around me in the water, no help except to feed the panic I fought for the last several hours to control. It seems so stupid now, to expect a floating bowl of fiberglass and canvas to form an impervious shield against the fury of the oceans. She is smarter than all of us. Found something to tangle in our props. Found a way for her salty tendrils to enter the hull. Found a way to tear us apart and claim us as her prize.
And soon she’ll have me, the panic says again. I bite down on the tender spot in my lip, add pressure to the sting of salt water, and kick my feet, pushing on toward the shoreline that gets no closer.
Author’s Note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is YouTube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I make minor grammar and spelling corrections, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.