Photo: Julie Inksmith
A Whale Swimming in Blue
By: Natalie Karimi
20th August 2023
Trigger warning: This story touches areas of suicidal thoughts!
The front of my white Adidas sneakers tiptoe at the edge of the rail on my balcony. Stories up from the apartment are where you can see me. Creases at the top of my shoes reveal the reluctance of my decision. Over the edge, the tip of my shoe says go for it, whilst the sole is scared of death. I hate how every decision in life comes with a set of responsibilities that trail behind them like a dog tail. What I despise especially, is that I inevitably give somebody else the responsibility to dial 112. I give them the burden of having to explain what happened, to stutter across their words, trying to find the right ones to describe the tragedy they never imagined could happen in front of them. It is as if they have temporarily lost their ability to speak English, desperately needing a dictionary to scream out the words for them, because as your vocal cords stumble and shake, you waste time. Then comes the aftermath. Hours and days will pass, yet that number still remains on the “most recent calls” category on your phone. It serves as a constant reminder of that interaction, all the “uhm’s” and the “I don’t know’s”, wondering if you are actually providing useful information.
Rust interferes with the natural black, steel railing, giving it a gray nuance that a child could peel off like wallpaper. The sun shines its rays and hopes that everyone outside is shielding themselves with sunscreen. It is noticeable that some people have been blessed enough that the sun gives them kisses upon their skin. The warm breath of the wind skis through the hair on my arms, as my grip on the metal tightens, forming sweaty palms. Others are in a feud with the sun; the fury, red patches on their skin as evidence. The sun has favorites. Green is the only color that reminds me of summer. I breathe the green that comes from trees and from the freshly cut grass; even in the summer rain, green exposes itself in damp air. The smell of garlic and onions is noticeable from the open window of the balcony below mine. My neighbor below also has a barking chihuahua that never seems to be quiet. Strangely, I kind of like it. High pitched barking along with a few buzzes from bees create life outside my apartment. From a distance I hear a bike’s tire screeching when making a turn to my street. Beyond my street, the sound of sprinklers in the park resembles a burble from a distance. Freshly mowed grass perfumes the air as children lie down looking up at the clouds, searching to find dragons and mermaids amidst them. Children leap over the rays and arches of the water, blasting through the air. Adults that still know how to live copy the kids. In other corners, I see people reading books underneath a tree’s shadow, while some write in a notebook. Molecules of sweat enter my mouth, it is too warm.
If you look at life through your five senses, you begin to acknowledge how beautiful it is; like how a single flower holds the scent of a memory. How the heat of the sun against your skin can remind you of your dog’s kiss. How a single melody can bring out the best version of you through dance. How easily a first bite of food can become your new favorite meal or snack. How the sky is never the same as each day goes by. The sunsets and sunrises are so stubborn, they never present their same nuances twice. The smell of freshly mowed grass will slowly disappear into tomorrow when the time comes. Kids’ laughter will be louder on some days than others. The mood in the park changes day by day. A family jumps over sprinklers and shares a memorable moment with their loved ones, whereas three meters away, a ten year marriage is coming to an end. Every person has their moments and burdens, living in a shared universe.
I am having a moment. My life aches from the problems I carry. Anxiety fills itself in my stomach at the thought of plummeting to the ground. Regretting that one step; I will not fly, I will fall. The creases on my shoes start to relax. I take a step back. The sky is never the same as each day goes by. The sunsets and sunrises are so stubborn, they never present their same nuances twice. I want to see as many of their forms and colors as possible; turning their art into paintings, creating a gallery of all the beauty gathered in my sky. The only way I can do that is if I open my eyes.
As I close my apartment door behind me and walk down to the ground floor, I notice how I reflexively hold my breath; protecting myself from the moldy walls of the hallway. The darkness of the staircase deceives the sunlight that immediately blinds me when I open the front door to the building. I take in the sun, forgetting that it existed outside of my walls. Lying down on the lawn, my phone in my pocket, I dive into the blue sky. A whale-shaped cloud swims across the blue sky. I am the whale, swimming through endless blue. There are no wrong turns to make, no dead ends, no way to get lost. Just blue. Luckily, blue is my favorite color because even when the sky is infested with clouds and pouring rain, there is still a glimpse of blue to be found up there. During snowy days or scorching, hot, Florida summers, the sky is blue. My heart pounds and with every beat against my hand, my diaphragm raises upwards. I can make all the mistakes I want in life because life is blue and I am a whale. Blue is my home, life is my home.
I am having a moment. My life hurts from the problems I carry.
For the first time in a while, I take out my phone. I want help but I don’t know what to say or who I should say it to. What do they say when I tell them, “Hi, I need help”. Then what? I open Google and I explain all my feelings in that tiny, limited search bar and press “enter”. A number pops up on the screen. There is help. Maybe I need to tell them everything I wrote in that search bar.
I want to see all the sunsets and sunrises the world has to offer. And I want to see my favorite color in the sky everytime I look up.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health, please read the resources suggested below.