The weight is crushing, pressing down on me like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It isn’t a real weight, at least not to anyone else. It makes my sag, my shoulders droop, and my back curve.
There’s a flutter of panic that burns through my chest, and the air around me thins instantly. I can feel the walls closing in around me, and the weight heavier than ever on me. I can’t do this, I think to myself, and my breathing is erratic and uncontrolled. It’s quick, shallow and uneven as I try to find my rock again.
But I find that my rock has turned to rubble, and I have nothing left except sand that slips through my fingers as I sift through the mess uselessly.
I’m lost in this current, with nothing to hold me down, and for a while, I do nothing but flow along, resigned to my fate and willing to lose everything in the rush. The current breaks me. It tears through me, pulverising tender flesh and tearing through muscle and sinew until my bones are stripped and bare.
It’s all cold agony and fiery anguish as I lose myself in the current, parts of me going to places they might never return from, but that’s okay, I tell myself.
I brush against something small, but it’s enough to make me slow down a little, and the stumble makes me catch on something else. My attention is brought back to the relentless current once again. The pain is earth-shattering, and the water around me turns pink as I scratch myself again and again.
Was I actually slowing down?
Opening my eyes at last, I’m blinded momentarily, but when I squint desperately, I see mould-covered lumps in the clear stream of water. Flailing desperately, I throw myself at one, missing it completely but earning a gash that makes the water a murky crimson that snarls in delight before dissolving.
This time, I try to gage the distance, and limply reach for one as I pass it by. I tumble over in the water for all my hard work, and I breath cold ice until I bounce off a lump that was hidden in shadows. The knock makes pain flash through me, but I get my head above the water again, and this time, I slam bodily into a lump of mould.
I hold on to it tightly, gasping weakly and panting as I scratch the green away. My nails are broken and my fingers are bleeding, as is the rest of me, when I hug it close. My teeth are chattering and I can’t feel my toes as I hold onto that rock.
I need this.
I need an anchor in the current. I can’t keep myself steady, not like the others who I see now. Some are swimming strongly, fearless as they pass me. Others follow weakly, more carefully, but they move along just fine. A blood-curdling shriek sounds, and I see a figure drowning in a torrent of scarlet and blue and golden sunlight.
I’m only half conscious now, and I can feel myself losing sight of the sky and my rock. I can’t feel my fingers anymore; they’re numb from cold and strain, but I force myself to keep holding with my arms. I force myself to keep holding on.
Even if all I want to do is let go.