Unshackled

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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

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202 Comments Add yours

  1. John Reyes says:

    Simply astounding! Another great piece

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, John! That means a lot ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. twooccasions says:

    Interesting irony in this piece. There is both angst and comfort in captivity. Love it!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      That’s what I was trying to bring about here… thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed reading it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. twooccasions says:

      Much love from a prior captive. I’m now a fan of freedom along with your writing. Thanks for helping me appreciate my past!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely piece. The parallels between the two living beings are poignant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. minimalloy says:

    This is thought-provoking and very beautiful xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. minimalloy says:

      You’re very welcome it was really a lovely read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Shona Silverman says:

    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. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Shona! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! ❤

      Like

  6. josafarblog says:

    Very impressive post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you! ❤

      Like

  7. krulkbenson says:

    Interesting, thoughtful and true, we were never meant to be unshackled, but there’s freedom after death with God.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Viduu says:

    This is intense! I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Viduu! ❤

      Like

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you! ❤

      Like

  9. josafarblog says:

    It made me thought of my existence and the one on the other side of the wall, if it’s wonderful or like that of the fish which is struggling to survive.

    Natalie,are you on Instagram, I’d like to talk!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      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. josafarblog says:

      Can you share the”divulge your thoughts” link!

      Like

  10. Reminds me of some old school horror stories 🙂 Love the realization in the end that they are the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Haha, thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. silent words says:

    The efforts for freedom are mesmerising….but it is useful only if achieved in the right way and on the right time…..

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Shanshe says:

    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. Natalie Swift says:

      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. Shanshe says:

      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

  13. Beautiful and captivating. The use of the photo with your eloquent words just drew me right in….shackled my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      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 ❤

      Like

  14. sunilmdabral says:

    Not a lie, it is to say that how swiftly you have become one of my favourite bloggers.

    What a masterpiece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      That really means a lot to me, Sunil. Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. sunilmdabral says:

      You are always welcome. Your writings are excellent. I love the way you build your perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. txjessy says:

    Wow, very good!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Jessy! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. txjessy says:

      Thank you for sharing your talent 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. phoenixrose says:

    This really resonated with me. Felt like this throughout my teens and early twenties. I can’t say what took me from this place but I’m so glad I’m not there anymore. Beautiful writing x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! Glad you liked it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ashes says:

    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. Natalie Swift says:

      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

  18. KesavMahesh says:

    This one is a really interesting one ,your style of writing is really good
    Even i wonder which one of us is slighted💆

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Kesav! Glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. KesavMahesh says:

      yeah i did enjoy it.
      I really like it that your thoughts are boundaryless
      Rare to find people with boundaryless thoughts nowadays:)

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Ryan Hauck says:

    Well done. Captivating.
    AUM

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Ryan! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ryan Hauck says:

      Of course!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I really admire your writing style. You made a fishbowl and a fish so interesting to read!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Haha thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  21. M'shasho says:

    Plot twist. Give a thing something it craves for most in the world and watch it plunge to its demise. Absolutely beautifully written

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! So glad you liked it! ❤️

      Like

  22. tara caribou says:

    Wow. Perfectly written. Excellent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Brenda Renwick says:

    Mesmerizing as well as startling.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Manessah B. says:

    I loved that ending! Another beautiful and well written thought, Natalie! Hope you’re doing great, my friend! 🙂💖

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Manessah! Glad you liked it! ❤
      I am, thanks! You?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Manessah B. says:

      You’re very welcome, Natalie! ❤️☺️
      That’s great to hear! I’m in the hospital right now, but in good spirits! lol
      Thanks for asking! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Natalie Swift says:

      Oh, are you okay? Haha, that’s all that really matters in the end, doesn’t it? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Manessah B. says:

      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

  25. mariejordan9 says:

    Hi Natalie,I love how you use the trap fish to explore your life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Marie! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! ❤

      Like

  26. Wow. Very beautiful and smooth flow throughout. That ending tho 😱

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Haha, thank you so much! So glad you liked it! ❤

      Like

    2. 😎 I look forward to more

      Liked by 1 person

  27. 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. Natalie Swift says:

      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

    2. I think so the fish did get what it sought 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Like

  28. @Patricia@ says:

    Good afternoon Natalie, I couldn’t stop reading it (you). I wouldn’t change a thing, simply lovely.
    PA

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Patricia! So glad you enjoyed it! ❤

      Like

  29. Laura Bennet says:

    Intriguing perspective. Boundaries keep us safe – even when we feel them as confining, there is freedom and life there. You have created some wonderful imagery.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      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. Laura Bennet says:

      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. Natalie Swift says:

      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

  30. Khan says:

    This is awesome. Really looking forward to read more of your stuff 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Khan! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  31. dreaswar says:

    Lovely . Who’s the prisoner ? Really…

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Ananya Goswami says:

    Sooo mesmerizing, Natalie!!! Just loved it..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

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

      Like

  33. Ric says:

    “Water and Air… Captivity” my favourite part

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Glad you liked it! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! ❤

      Like

  34. Shan Bae says:

    This was a captivating piece. You have a way of keeping the mind’s interested peeked. Enjoyed reading this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Shan! Glad you liked it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Shan Bae says:

      You’re welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. E. J. Gette says:

    Wow that is very existential

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Lynn Marie says:

    Amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. This is disturbing and very powerful

    Liked by 2 people

  38. 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. Natalie Swift says:

      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

  39. Great piece of work. Creative and thoughtful

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That means a lot ❤

      Like

    1. Natalie Swift says:

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

      Like

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  40. It’s beautifully written. I was mesmerized by every word of it, so much depth in the writing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot ❤

      Like

  41. anandbala1999 says:

    You somehow managed to send whirlpools of thought in my mind.. a great piece of work.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Natalie Swift says:

      Thank you so much, Anand! Glad you liked it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. anandbala1999 says:

      Liked by 1 person

  42. misfoundprotakes says:

    Love.

    Liked by 2 people

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