DI MITRI, GAIA
Gaia Di Mitri
Age: 14, Grade: 9
School Name: Hunter College High School, New York, NY
Educator: Zachary Gale
Category: Short Story
Sicilian seawater gushes over the edges of my eyelids. It stings and burns, and I rub my eyes raw to wipe the painful salt out from them. When I try to open my eyes again, the sensation still nips at my tear ducts and it’s difficult to see.
can i still see myself?
As a young child, I was always told that I had incredible vision––the most observant, and according to the doctor’s papers, a twenty out of fifteen. I noticed everyone told me I noticed, in motion or still, dead or alive, in underwater dreams or in real life. In retrospect, it’s true, I was always watching others, leaving me no time to be conscious of the loss. Yes, loss. The loss of air as my lungs went under and were filled with the waves. The loss of fear as my mind went blank from deep pressure. The loss as I grew more constrained in what I could not express, as my thoughts began to sprawl and wind like cobwebs.
the loss of myself.
Indeed, I was never aware of what I was becoming. For a second, I would look up from my sinking to see the rippled sun and forget all that I could not think, say, or feel, all that made me who I was. I remember seeing the rays of sunlight kiss the seafloor and the fish dart from the light. No cobwebs, no restraint, no fear. Just like that, the outside mattered more, and I would forget I was sinking.
i would forget myself.
I cannot see the world so well anymore. My vision is fine, but all I see now is the inside of my mind, trapped in my own thoughts. I don’t notice as much; I’m thinking too much, saying too much, feeling far too much. Now I float on my back in the sea of turquoise, wanting to remember what it felt like to disregard burning eyes because what lies beyond them was more important. I tilt my head back, trying to watch once more as everything blurs to blue in an instant. My ears plug up, and I can see the small bubbles on my arms against the sun’s brilliance so closely, and then my hands are reaching up and almost disappearing into the light, and for a second I think that I’m finally out of my mind.
i’m letting go of myself.
It ends too soon: the glow of the rocks down below, the sun, the bubbles, the watching. I am only upside down. Aquatic dystopia. There my mind goes again, thinking, saying, feeling, thinking, saying, feeling, and I am gasping for air. As I try to breathe, struggling to reach the surface once more, to realize who I am again and hide from the outside, the mist from my splashes enters my line of sight, and all I can see is the endless white frenzy. Emerging from underneath, I cough, unaccustomed to the submersion, and I wonder how I did it before.
how did i abandon myself?
On the rocky, sandless shore, pieces of smoothed glass litter the floor, all various shades of green with different degrees of opacity. The prettiest, in my opinion, are those that are crystal clear, the ones that gleam like brand new eyes, ones that only see the beauty of the outside. I gather them all in the front pouch of my backpack before the hike back home begins, where I’ll find myself yet again tangled between those loud, emotional thoughts of mine. All that I cannot think, say, or feel, coming back to consume me. It will surely happen.
i always confuse myself.
To relive it for a moment, the sheer spurn for self-preservation, the wonder that a new perspective brings, I take the sea glass, and stow it away, hidden in the depths of a bottomless blue bag. For when I need to see anything else. For the inevitable:
i can no longer stand myself.