Drabble · Life · mental health


I’m drowning.

I’m constantly sinking under the incoming waves. The panicked thrumming in my chest is matched by the shaking of my hands as I try to keep myself afloat. I didn’t want to go swimming but somehow here I am, sinking in an ocean of adrenaline and distress.

I’m not a poet, and I’ll probably never be one, but how else can I explain the heavy weight on my chest, the fear, and the sense of being completely adrift? I’m isolated by my own biochemistry and even if there is someone reaching to me from a life raft, I can’t see them for the water in my eyes.

Every time I drag myself up from the depths of the darkness, I’m only more exhausted, weight down by the seaweed and debris I found at the bottom. It’s not a relief anymore to reach the surface. The air burns my scarred lungs. The blue sky is just a reminder of the work it will take to stay above.

Little white pills like water wings go down daily. But water wings in the ocean only help so much. So you try and build a raft; you try and organize your life to keep too busy to notice the water seeping into your lungs. You try to stop planning in advance to avoid the inevitable failures, but that only tires you more. You try to meditate the ocean away, a drop of a time, to drink it down and accept it. But it is just too much. Always too much until your belly swells and your body collapses.

Being lost at sea isn’t something you can FIX. You can only manage it, float half submerged in it. You can only survive it.

It makes take a deep breath of salt water seed so appealing. The air already feels thick in your lungs, how much worse could the water feel for the few fleeting moments of consciousness?

At least that would be effective.

Others try and help, but most of them are drowning too. You can gaze across the horizon and call to one another, but no one can navigate your ocean but you. Where they have an island, you might have a kraken.

But sometimes, sometimes I get up and above for long enough to feel the sunshine, and to remember what it’s like to actual live with ground firm beneath my feet. I stay above long enough to hear the encouragement from the people in their own oceans, to feel the hands reaching down to try and help me up.

Sometimes I laugh with my husband and mean it. Sometimes I play piano and feel it. Sometimes I write something and actually post it.

Sometimes it feels a little less like drowning.

Sometimes I’m strong enough to swim.

I wrote half of this while half asleep a few days ago in the depths of an extended anxiety attack. The last year’s been rough, but I’ll keep trudging through. Sometimes it’s just nice to get it out in words. (In other words, don’t panic, I’m okay.)

Drabble · Stories · Writing

Out of the Box: A drabble

Zi stared down at the tiny box, eyes narrowed in concentration. There had to be a trick to opening it and getting at whatever was inside. It was small, barely the width of her hand, and the wood dark and smooth with age. It had been two hours now, and she was nearing the point of simply carving in some very illegal sigils and letting the thing explode. There was no latch, no seam in the wood’s perfectly uniform sides. Her instructors hadn’t even told her what was hidden in the box, just dangling the mystery in front of her like a carrot. She pushed a stray strand of dark hair back behind her ear.

Maybe I’m not supposed to open the box, but just pretend that I did. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Her memory echoed with Agent Larch’s constant refrain of “think outside the box!”

She grinned suddenly, glancing around the small, bare room. Each corner had its own set of engraved rings, adjustable standards ready for most spells. She grabbed the unopened box of chalk, standing and making her way over to the closest set. Why should she try and unlock the cage, when she could just move it out of the way, instead?

The chalk dropped into her hand, and between the outer two rings she drew crow sigil. Crow, her mind offered absently. Sign of the tricksters; of travel, change, and illusion. The tiger was a more finicky sigil, and she took her time making sure the angles were perfect. The tiger; strength, stability, wealth and treasures.

Filthy hands left streaks of white on her jeans, but Zi barely noticed, reaching down deep into the earth to pull at the power she could always feel buzzing beneath her feet.

Whatever was in that box, it was hers.

Just a little drabble as a homework assignment. Zi is a character from a novel I’m working on though. I do like her quite a bit. 


S.J. Penner

Author of the upcoming series #Tyrant, artist, and inveterate dabbler. Creator of #guiltfreeswag for writers and gamers at Coffee Ink where 100% of proceeds go to Red Cross Emergency Services.

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