ISSUE Magazine

X by Ying Xian

Take a deep breath and dive. They told me. Dive to the bottom of the ocean. Don’t let your breath give out on you. They said it was only fear that prevented our lungs from having legendary capacity. It was the fear of death that made you stop short and gasp for air. And it was the fear of death that made our lungs fill with water.

The sunshine came filtering down through the effervescent liquid, glittering above me. The sea was such a brilliant blue-green that day and I felt as if I was swimming through liquid diamond. I paused for a moment, mesmerized by the beauty of it.

Then the man I had entered the waters with shook me out of my reverie with a jerk of his thumb. Obediently, I turned my head away and dove deeper. Lower, towards the bottom of the sea. There, where the sun did not appear to shine but tendrils of light penetrate, allowing me to see. And without light, there must be darkness. That was the logic of the world.

I kicked my legs lightly and felt my body sink gradually. Peering at the seabed where the sand swirled and rose in light mists, it made the water appear murkier than it was. I glided along the water, parallel to the ocean floor. Sometimes, I trailed my fingers along it, stirring the sand further and making it rise into clouds.

Faces were formed from these granules that hung suspended behind me, lagged with time. When I looked over my shoulder they would always have their mouths shaped into perfect little ‘O’s, their tongues trilling within that ominous hole. I refused to pay them any heed and drifted through, imagining myself as a submarine.

A pioneer. Here to discover the secrets and treasures of the sea. And sure enough, I caught a glimpse of it nestled safely in the sand. The seabed had done its best to hide it, but it was to no avail. I reached my hand out and wrenched it free from the grasp of the ocean. I shifted my body so that my legs curled before me as the remnants of sand that clung to its shell fell away through the water.

Unveiling it in all of its opal colored and sharp, uneven glory.

Careful not to cut myself on its shell, I explored its ridges, lightly touching it with the tip of my fingers. Discovering for myself all of its dangers and all of its weaknesses. Applying pressure to its most tender spot, I felt for its pulse with my thumb and concentrated on its steady heartbeat. I caressed it gently, feeling greatly soothed by its slow throb. The beat grew louder, thudding cautiously in my hand – I could not distinguish between the beating of my heart and of the heart I held in my hand. I rolled back and savored the pleasure of that moment when we were one.

Then, I carefully drew the turret-shaped knife strapped to my thigh and I lightly tapped its shell. I traced the lip of its shell and felt it pound faster with nerves. Reaching the spot where my thumb was carefully placed, it became frantic. I paused with the blade lightly pressing itself against it and held it there. Counting its beats.

Ten.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Nine.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Eight.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Seven.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Six.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Five.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Four.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Three.

Lub-dub.
Lub-dub.

Two.

Lub-dub.

One.

Lub – Someone slid the steel in without warning, piercing the muscle and parting warm flesh. And I gasped in pain. A sudden spurt of blood gushed out, billowing into tendrils and wisps of red that curled and unfurled around me. It was like a gust of hot air as its warmth lingered, enveloping me whilst the red faded away into the blue of the sea. It left a sickly sensation behind which made me ill. With the dagger still buried deep in the shell, I turned away from the bed and swam until I broke through the surface of the sea…

And emerged in a grimy room overcast with fuchsia-tinted lights. It hurt my eyes to even try to look around the room, but I suppose it didn’t matter how the room looked. It only mattered that it gave me a bloody headache. A sharp pain in my palm diverted my attention away from my pounding head. I was still holding onto the oyster and its shell was cutting deep into my palm. The dagger stood out like a soldier at attention. Blood dripped from my palm and onto the shell; bleeding onto the dagger and making the oyster look like a gaping wound. I put it down on a table next to me and levering it, I pried open the shell. A high pitched wail immediately filled the room, eager to announce its pain. The oyster itself resisted my efforts but I persevered and wrenched it open, laying bare its flesh.

And I felt a searing pain, sudden and invasive. It was soon over and there, the oyster wagged its tongue angrily at me, revealing little beads of pearls glistening in its slime.

Deftly, I used the dagger to flick the muscle loose. Then I raised the oyster to my lips and devoured it without the blessing of a lemon. Licking my fingers, and the blood that trickled down my palms and onto my wrists. In my opinion, the taste of blood was a far better accompaniment. Some pearls had gotten between my teeth. I used my finger to claw vigorously at them before I spat them out onto the now empty shell.

Looking over the rather forlorn looking pearls with faint teeth marks upon them, I lifted the shell off the table and brought it into the room next door. There was a man bent over a mahogany table with his back towards me. Beside him was a clawfoot bath made out of ivory. Without even taking a look at me, he flicks a wrist to his left, gesturing at the bath. I walk over and tip all but one of the pearls into it.

I don’t see what lies at the bottom, but I hear the clink of pearls falling onto pearls. Then I cross over to the wall decorated all over with vaginas made of fabric. There was one with a labia made out of lace. And another covered with moss. I arranged my shell in one of the empty frames and placed the remaining pearl strategically at the top.

Featured Image by Dhiyanah Hassan and Muizz Adam.

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This entry was written by viewsinbetween and published on 14/06/2013 at 07:00. It’s filed under Fiction, ISSUE13, Musings, Writings, Ying Xian and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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