by Irene Han
Art by Advait Patil
Issue: Aphelion (Spring 2016)

You wake me when you grasp my shoulder.


Even under the dream I feel you reach down my swollen throat to unhook my breath, your fingers pulling me back up to the surface and as I emerge, gasping for reality, you give me all of yours to borrow.


To calm, I count − arms, legs, wrists are there, and neck.

You help me breathe as best I can.


But the stale stillness is broken somewhere by a quivering, a crooked exhale, and I realize that the shuddering rib cage is mine and my grip slips as there is a broken somewhere, and that a leak to my stomach sinking and you try your best to explain but I can’t hear you — I can’t hear underwater.


I close my eyes and wait for you to wake me again.