A chair, a table, a plant.

On the table, a fishbowl, in the corner of the room.

A splash of golden on grey.

It is an itch that refuses to be dismissed, like a picture placed slightly tilted in an otherwise perfect room.

My forehead leans on the glass box, my eyes pressed against the surface.

A goldfish darts past, a bolt of sunlight. It doesn’t spare me a single glance. I am ignored; as it is ignorant of my existence.

I wonder which one of us is the slighted one here.

The world beyond those four glass walls is incomprehensible to it, only a distant dream, the faintest litany. My world ends with this tank.

The only difference between us is the side of the wall we stand on.

Water and air.


Every once in a while, it buts its head against the glass, striking at its tank with its fins.

It swims around the tank, once.


Another thump.


There’s something slightly off about the entire scene. About the way its body moves. Stiff. Almost brittle. The eyes are glassy, unfocused. As if it sees something here that I can’t see, living in a universe completely different from mine.

It swishes past me again, moving in those hurried, jerky movements I’ve grown so used to.

I imagine it wishes for freedom. For the glass to shatter and set it free. To see the world from the other side of those walls. My side.

I trace its path with my hand over the glass.

Another thump.

Then one day, it happens.

At first, the crack in the glass is small. Barely the length of a hairpin. I run my hand along the fracture, feeling the tiny welt scratching at the delicate skin.

The goldfish thumps on the glass.

I press the tip of my index finger on the fissure, slowly pushing in. The glass strains under my finger, cutting through the sensitive skin. A bead of red surfaces.

The fracture spider-webs across the tank, creeping along the surface.

One more prod.

A single crack echoes in the room, a muffled gunshot.

The tank shatters all at once, and there’s a mesmerizing beauty to it, to the way the glass seems to implode on itself as the water gushes out, pulsing. Shards of glass fly around me, flipping slowly end over end, the sunlight catching in each piece. A thousand tiny, beautiful rainbows.

The goldfish is swept out onto the floor, flopping as it struggles to breathe.

Blood drips onto the wet floor from my finger.

I watch as it thrashes on the wood, breathing out the last of its oxygen into the swirls of red.

There’s a certain irony to it.

My life-source mingling with its.

Our worlds have collided.

Hands claw at my throat, and my lungs seem to be surrounded by metal bands. I wheeze in, and my breath whistles, like blowing air into a clogged pipe.

The tank goes blurry. The table, the chair, the plant. Fading away.

Only the fish is left.

The fish and me.

The fish is me.

I was never meant to be unshackled.


Photo by Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash





192 thoughts on “Unshackled

  1. Natalie, this is an excellent piece of writing. You have woven together two very different lives and shown how similar they are. Then you added a catastrophe that brought your experiences into this single domain viewed from two sides.

    “The fish is me.”
    Ah yes, the killer punchline to a thought-provoking and disturbing, insightful and perceptive piece.

    Shona x

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Unfortunately, no, not at the moment… you can reach out to me through my ‘Divulge your thoughts’ page though
      I know email is really old-school but I’m still working on setting up my social media pages so…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And, another wonderful piece of writing that reminds me why I was sucked in to your blogs from day 1! I love the analogy here, how you used the photo to give imagery to your writing. Very good writing!

    I DO have a question if you would be inclined to answer. Do these pieces come/stem from a personal place? It almost feels silly to ask, because I can’t see how they would be this good if they didn’t. That being said, are you seeing any light in your life at this point?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Shanshe! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this! ❤

      Well, I suppose they are inspired, in a way, from personal incidents. Isn't everything we write? That said, I didn’t specifically try to write about my own life in this piece, but I think its rubbed off all the same. Most of the time, I'm just trying out a new style of writing: this one, for instance, was Margaret Atwood's if you've read any of her books.

      Again, everything you're reading here is just one facet of my life, a single dimension. There's always light and dark at every point in our lives, isn't there? If there was no light, how could we 'see' the dark in the first place…

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Very good point! Sometimes, I forget that there are several dimensions to all of us, including myself! … and if there was no dark, how could we recognize the light? We need both to appreciate the other!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I’m so glad you enjoyed it… thank you so much for taking the time to read and appreciate! It really means a lot ❤


  3. It baffles me sometimes how amazing people are and the things they can write about. This is amazing! You inspire me to push myself and explore the world of writing more. I’m so glad you exist. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! That means more to me than you could ever imagine.
      I honestly have no idea what to say… this comment just made my day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes indeed! 😄
      I’m doing okay. Nothing too serious to worry about, but hoping I won’t have to have another surgery. lol Fingers crossed that it won’t have to come to that! 🤞😁 I’ve been enjoying your posts, Natalie, and can’t tell you how much they are inspiring me! Keep it up! ☺️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is mesmerising. Life continues to surprise doesn’t it. Although the ending some would say is macabre I prefer looking at it differently. Isn’t the ending truthfully freedom? Freedom from everything, from the constant circling within glass walls.

    And I have always loved your writing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That really is an interesting way of looking at it. I guess the fish did get what it wanted then, didn’t it? On another note, we don’t always know what we’re wishing for…
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts here, Parikhit! It really means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I was trying to get across, though I’ve seen some really interesting perspectives coming up on the comments section… it’s always so exciting to see what people can come up with when they read something you wrote, isn’t it?
      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m glad I got what you were communicating! It’s true – writing is so subjective and we read it from our own space of references, woundedness, and expectation. I remember in literature classes thinking it was somewhat presumptuous to say what the writer meant with their words. Maybe we get it, but maybe we’re way off. You write beautifully no matter what!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Haha, that’s exactly what I was thinking too… but I suppose no writer can ever expect all their readers to look at a piece the exact way they’ve looked at it.
      Thank you so much, Laura! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There are days when i feel down. Words don’t come to me.

    And then, I read your blog. I feel rejuvenated. I hope you know the power you have, in your writing. It inspires me, and with me – many others, I think.

    This was yet another beautiful piece of writing, which made me feel free. Again. I simply loved reading this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly, I don’t even know what to say…
      Thank you so much! You have no idea how much that means to me.
      This comment just made my day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes, we feel as if we want something and it is only after we achieve it that we realize that maybe, it wasn’t what we wanted. Maybe, the fish wanted freedom or maybe, it just wanted something different from routine. There is no single answer to anything, is there? This was a thought-provoking post. The first time I read this, I thought it meant that because the narrator could feel what the fish was feeling, the narrator was indeed the fish. Somewhat like a single soul in different bodies.
    But the second time I read this, it made me wonder about what the fish really wanted and how was the narrator connected to the fish. I really loved this piece. You are an amazing writer, Natalie. Amazing in the true sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mmm there definitely is no right answer. It really means a lot to me that you feel that way, Rachel! Thank you so much for your kind words! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My pleasure. I’d really appreciate if you could take some time to read my latest posts which are actually parts of a series. You captivate me with your writing! And your feedback would be of great help to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha that’s definitely a problem when you’re trying out a series, isn’t it. Not very convenient either…


    1. I am a firm believer that humans were designed to communicate and interactive physically. Body language says more than words. You are quite rare in that your writing bares the soul in such a way that your body languages are felt yet not seen. Cultivate and release your Devine gift! Peace

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you liked it!
      Well, we all have our own styles and niches: I, for one, absolutely fail at writing straightforward stories with actual plots. Hence, the metaphor-ridden, vague pieces. For some reason, I just can’t seem to come up with a good storyline and stick to it, without wondering off like this…
      I’ll get there one day! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I guess our ‘normal’ is what is comforting, and our normal shifts and morphs according to what we are experiencing at that moment, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think none of us was meant to be unshackled. Yet, like that goldfish, we push against the shackles, thumping and stressing to be free, to see what’s on the other side of the fence where we’re sure the grass is greener. And taking a huge leap across the great divide, we skin our knees and bruise our elbows and land in a pile of grass that’s rarely greener than the other side. Ah, such fools, we mortals! Pushing against the shackles until our hearts bleed with greed! Your blog spoke Mountains to me, Natalie. I’ll be back to read more of your “darkest tunnel” – looking for light at the other end!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad you liked it! Thank you!
      I’m loving your work, by the way, your writing is absolutely fantastic… I simply loved the way you’ve paced everything out, the descriptions, the action, everything is amazing ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much! That’s so kind of you 🙂 Glad you enjoying it so far, I know it might seem quite a slow start, but hopefully the reader gets drawn in [plus there’s a dog sidekick. So that’s awesome 🙂 ] I’d be thrilled to know what you think of later chapters, as I’m keen on getting new feedback from readers. Hope you enjoy it! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

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