Rays and Jellyfish (a short story)
By Alexandra Harrison
I don’t like the sun, because I know that I can blind myself. There is nothing stopping me, but a nagging consciousness to survive, to keep going, to move my head away when its rays scrape my irises and make my pupils shrink and suffocate. Although sometimes I am afraid that I will stare into it, that I will give in and… I do not trust myself.
I run into the bathroom, where it’s cold and damp and light must first penetrate through frosted windows and thick moist air before reaching me. I tie myself to the bath tap with an old thick rope, which cuts into my leg and makes red run to the surface of my skin. I sit in the empty tub and the curve of the plastic doesn’t quite accommodate to the natural architecture of my back, but it is better than dying. The sun is like a bomb and the bath is my air raid shelter.
I shuffle further down, towards the tap and my neck, chin and shoulders all pile up together like pale, fat cakes, as I try to position myself more comfortably. I can feel the soft warmth of the sun, touching my shoulders and tempting me to turn and stare into its hot wobbling mass of light. I sink further into the empty tub, I do not trust myself.
I lie in the bathtub for a long time, possibly sleeping as my breath puffs into the moist air and joins in with the rhythm of the leaking tap. I start to run the bath and the water fills up my clothes and makes them float like jellyfish on the water. I sink further into the tub and allow the water to creep over my body with its warmth, as it glides through every crevice, with slow, throbbing waves and fits itself perfectly into my body, like a warm winter coat. The water touches my chin and the rest of my head feels very dry and starved of moisture in comparison. It then brushes my nose and starts to well in my nostrils…
No! No! No! I sit up and quickly untie the rope. I can’t stay in here, I could drown myself, I could drown myself… I do not trust myself with water. I do not trust myself with sunlight. I do not trust myself with trains and buses and tall buildings and hospitals with medications and thin sharp needles. I do not trust myself with cleaning and cooking with blue flames and knives and sauces full of poison and things to choke on. I do not trust myself. I do not trust myself. I do not trust myself. I do not trust myself.
Thank you for taking the time to read this short story, it means so much to me. I have been writing stories much longer than I have been writing poems, but I rarely share them on here, so I guess this means a lot to me. I would really appreciate feedback on this.
Thank you so much for reading,