Unshackled

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.

Captivity.


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

It swims around the tank, once.

Twice.

Another thump.

Repeat.

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



PS In May 2019, I will be moving to a new web address. I’m shifting to a personal domain and I’m so, so excited for you to see it! Buying my domain is giving me so much more freedom for new features, design, and I can’t wait for you to get started there.

But on the downside, all those of you who’ve subscribed to my blog here WILL NOT be notified of new posts anymore. I’d hate for you to miss out just because I’ve shifted addresses, but WordPress doesn’t offer anything to straighten this out.

So to make sure that the change is as seamless as possible, I’d be so grateful if you’d enter your email ID below so we can stay in touch. You can opt-out any time, no hard feelings. I hate spam and I’ll only be reaching out every two weeks or so for blog updates, I promise.

Thank you so much for all your support. ❤

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202 Comments Add yours

  1. What a lovely read. Marvelous work

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Shantanu! That really means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My pleasure always ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Poet6teen says:

    But if you (or we) were never meant to be unshackled, why then do we feel “a drawing” towards another ball of existence?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very well delivered piece

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Ruben! ❤

      Like

  4. KetCage says:

    WHOA. This was SO good!
    Loved it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Greta Renee says:

    Whoa! This is amazing and terrifying! Great job.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. esoterica says:

    Just wonderful! Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You have written an excellent piece.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Miles! ❤

      Like

  8. Great write up 👍

    “The fish and me.
    The fish is me.
    I was never meant to be unshackled.”

    Lived like this for a long time but now its my past and now I AM A FREE MAN IN CHRIST JESUS

    Liked by 4 people

  9. tshawwriter says:

    This is an incredibly captivating piece. I love the detailed imagery- the bead of blood, the tiny rainbows…really fantastic!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment here! It really means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. tshawwriter says:

      You’re welcome 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pola says:

    You pack an incredible punch both conceptually and in your execution! Wow!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow! Well done! I like the way it starts out as a very ordinary day….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Like

  12. Very enjoyable piece to read!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Like

  13. Eliza says:

    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I enjoyed this post 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Martina! ❤

      Like

  15. 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. Natalie Swift says:

      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

    3. Natalie Swift says:

      Sure! I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m done. It’d be my pleasure ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Amazing. Simply amazing. I’d appreciate if you’d read one of my posts. They’re a bit long but well worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      I’m glad you liked it! ❤
      Of course. I'd be my pleasure!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much, Natalie. I’m new to WordPress and I just realized that every time I post a new chapter…everything will be backwards to newcomers…

      Heh…like Star Wars films.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Natalie Swift says:

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

      Like

    4. Not really…but I’m sure people will like my work

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Very nice I did an enjoy the story, you are talented. I am new to this, as I am just putting my thoughts down. I hope that it will help people not feel alone in going through a divorce.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      I’m so glad you liked it!
      Oh? I’m sure it’ll turn out great… good luck on your piece! ❤

      Like

  18. Seriously I love the way you write.. it’s as if it’s meant just for me. I want to get out but maybe it isn’t right for me.. maybe I am not supposed to.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      You never know until the glass shatters, do you?

      Like

    2. Thanks .. you opened my eyes 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Reblogged this on MARSHALL W THOMPSON, SR and commented:
    Ms. Switt, making words more than a voice behind a screen !

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Marshall! That really means a lot ❤

      Like

    2. 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

    3. Natalie Swift says:

      That’s really a beautiful way to put it… thank you so much! ❤

      Like

  20. doubledacres says:

    Bravo! Magnificent writing and your imagination is a gift. Thank you for sharing. You are obviously very talented.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot ❤

      Like

  21. I really enjoyed your writing style; it has an artistry that I haven’t been able to convey with my (original) stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      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

  22. theuntoldagent says:

    I really like this post. I read almost all ur post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Glad you liked it! Thank you so much! ❤

      Like

  23. mutualfeels says:

    Nicely done, so descriptive. I imagined every ounce of detail. Written very nicely.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  24. A very visual piece; clear in its darkness. Every inmate understands this. Wonderful writing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  25. What an interesting perspective. I’ve never thought of captivity as particularly comforting, but I guess there is something soothing about the familiar, even when it means captivity.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      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

  26. I really enjoyed that. Beautiful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot ❤

      Like

  27. JanBeek says:

    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 4 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      That was so beautifully expressed! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and sharing your thoughts here! It really means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. JanBeek says:

      You’re welcome. I am happy to reinforce your creative expressions with my appreciation. Keep in sharing. You have a gift! 🎁 ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

    3. JanBeek says:

      You knew I meant “keep ON sharing” right? Where’s spellcheck when you need it?

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Natalie Swift says:

      Haha I got that… thanks anyway! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Fred says:

    There is a science fiction story written in 1942 by Robert Heinlein entitles “Goldfish Bowl” than this made me think of.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. kukupassion says:

    Great piece. It’s deep.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you! ❤

      Like

  30. Tom Burton says:

    Fantastic read! Really enjoyed reading this, some great descriptions that pull the reader in. Keep it up! ❤

    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. Tom Burton says:

      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

    3. Haha agreed (with the awesome dog sidekick, that is). I’m still in the first few as for now, but I’ll definitely let you know once I get there! ❤

      Like

  31. Austin says:

    Beautifully written. Thanks for writing this piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you liked it, Austin! Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  32. sharonchyy says:

    I love this,!fantastic!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much! ❤

      Like

  33. delsenboisen says:

    Truely an excellent compilation. Love the irony.
    Too cool.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! Glad you liked it!<3

      Like

  34. KT says:

    Creation and annihilation. Entropy. Everyday, every moment. But the energy remains: that law of conservation. And we evolve. Never meant to be captive… More mad honey words from you. Love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. debduttapaul says:

    This reminds me of a film, ‘The Truman Show’.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Lion Prince says:

    Wow, great piece! Seamless transition from one point of view to another, until they both converge. Thank you for sharing this with us. I also wanted to thank you for following me – it’s how I discovered your amazing blog! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. This truly means a lot.

      And it was my pleasure. I simply loved your piece: The Halfway Point and I can’t wait to read more from you ❤

      Like

  37. This is so beautiful Shreya.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sangeet<3

      Like

  38. Hauntingly beautiful! I was utterly spellbound; I could see the story unfold before my eyes. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Accipter. You just made my day.<3

      Liked by 1 person

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