O2

From under the crests of crashing waves, the water swallows me up with feverish hunger. The waves, which tugged and thrashed at my body, are still and quiet once I breach the surface, and the change leaves me dizzy. The water here is green and empty, and the sun casts rays of lightened water that wash over me like a warm spotlight. The air from my mask is stale and hard to breathe, the metallic tang poisoning my tongue and tasting my lungs. I start to sink as I exhale, leaving a trail of bubbles to float to the surface and rejoin with the atmosphere, and it feels like I’m falling. I look down, and the water grows darker and more blue in hue, and my skin stings with the salt that surrounds me. There’s nothing here but the glimmer of sun above me and the darkness below me. I was wrong about the ocean.

In daydreams and imagined scenes, the ocean was colorful and bursting with parades of fish and decorated coral; colors I didn’t know existed were supposed to reveal themselves to me and only me. My only company was the bubbles of my own oxygen swimming away from me —
up and up and up.

I close my eyes and let my body drift — up, down, left, or right, I wasn’t sure. The water was a strange thing. I felt I was floating in the sky, but it was hard to breathe. There were no clouds, no airplanes, no skyscrapers. Soft yet grittiness catches me in my descent, and I open my eyes as I sit in the sand. It was a different world down here. Concrete that scrapes at my knees seems far away now, and seaweed waves to me in the current. I lay back to feel the sand under me completely. I feel small. There are no walls, there are no boundaries; just vast emptiness that expands forever.

A shadow shrouds me in heavy darkness before I see its maker. Large and god-like this beast floats over me, its wings a curtain to the long parade of a tail trailing behind it. It looks proud, as if knowing I was admiring from below. The stingray knows its place.
I felt small. I feel smaller.