I am trapped under ice.
It’s freezing cold and I am frozen still. Everyone I know is sat on the ice cap above happily paddling with only their feet submerged; sometimes they get pulled below and I swim towards them trying to push them back up while I sink; deeper, lower, where the pressure is so great my chest feels like it’s being clamped together.
I am all alone in the vast wide water. I know there are others trapped under here too, everyone of us trying to stay above the water while we try and battle the weight of it all… but I can’t see them The thick layer of ice seems to be pushing down,
down, I can’t hold the ice up. I just can’t anymore, but I have no choice. I repeat the mantra, that I can and must do this, to myself over, over and over. It helps for a while, and I stay afloat, but it’s not enough, soon I have lost all hope again and I sink lower. It’s so cold down here, freezing. It begins to hurt.
Someone hands me a rope.
I take it with a sad smile, and try and help her hoist me back above the water. It feels good for a little bit, I start to take notice of nice small things, like the sun hitting my face or her laugh as we both hold the rope. Although I am still freezing and my body is still immersed in the icy water, my head is above. My grin returns, a genuine smile for once, coupled with laughter and a little more joy. I missed this, I say. It’s a relief to feel this close to happy again, and the weight reduces; staying afloat seems a little easier. It’s exhausting to keep my head above the water still, but I have her to help. And I can help my friends, who are in the water too now, pushing them up out of the water, or try to at least. We’re coming out of the water, some of us paddling our feet, or better still not even a drop of water on them. I feel halfway to feeling better now. Then the rain comes, drenching everything in its path.
Suddenly my surroundings seem desolate; it’s not long before I fall beneath the surface of the water once more. It seems colder than previously, bitter and spiteful now after the warm sun. I shiver, scream and shout to try and stay afloat. It’s all to no avail as I sink further below the water, clinging and hugging my knees for warmth or comfort. There are voices from above; I rise for a moment only to hear the sounds become clearer, but they turn out to be only yells at me, and I cry even more despite being surrounded by water. I cry until it feels like I don’t even have the energy to do that anymore. I have no motivation to try and swim higher.
The pressure on my chest has risen so much that it hurts. I want to give up, I need to give up, but I can’t give up. Even though I crave the feeling I had before, floating above the ice and waves, it doesn’t feel possible at all to get up to the surface now. Now all I see is the bottom of the water. The dark, black, abyss at the bottom. It’s close, within my reach. But as soon as I try and grasp at it the sharp, icy pain immediately forces my hand away. I look back at the dark, the weight on my chest tightens, and I close my eyes. I try and channel some warmth back to my hands, concentrating on the memories of the warmth of the sun from before. The glowing orange, red or yellow contrasts with black void. I grasp at the darkness again, and I nearly reach it, But I look back up to the ice above. I can see people’s feet, paddling in the water or making shadows on the ice. The ice seems thinner, and easier to crack and break through from here. I can hear voices again, laughter so loud it’s deafening. The noises stop me, frozen in the water. I chew on my lip and wait. I wait for the laughter to stop. For the weight to push me down all the way. But nothing. Nothing. I stop and then swim a bit further up. I start to hear calls from above, willing me, pulling me to the surface. All of a sudden the deep, dark abyss seems too scary.
Less helpless now.
It’s still hard of course even now. Sometimes the weight pushes me back down below the water a little bit, just a little bit. But I don’t sink low enough that the pressure is too high. I try and break the ice, pounding on it with my hands, but I have friends to help on the ice above and I am pulled out of the water by them. The sun shines, drying my clothes and hair which cling tightly to my body. I laugh and smile again, it feels like ages since I have, the weight lifted off my chest so I am very relieved, while my feet splash in the water. Occasionally I’m engulfed in water once again, but I know I can get out again even if it takes a long time, as I have a ladder or a rope which pulls me back up from the water. I never sink as low as I once did. I do sink down low but it is nowhere near as far.
I am forever grateful I didn’t sink as far as I nearly did. I’m mostly happy now. Sitting on the ice, my feet in the water, with a hand grasped in my friend’s, and the sun and a smile on my face.