Asphyxiation

Cafe @ Norman, OK ◆ July 4, 2016 ◆ Short Story Elements + Non-Fiction

“How does it feel to be back in America?” My friend Alex asked me awe. I almost thought she asked what it felt like to be Black in America. In that case, I would’ve said “frustrating”. I guess heard her wrong for a quarter of a second though.

Alex figured that 30 days in Jamaica would’ve made me a little homesick. Which is a fair evaluation, but far from how I truly felt. In fact, I’d only been back in the states for about 48 hours, and had already experienced two bouts of stress-related nausea.

I turned to her, my eyes seemingly gazing at a small, distant object outside on the quiet street.

“I feel like I just got thrown into a pool of ice cold water” I replied to her under my breath. My hands shifted in discomfort around my small cup of english tea.

“I keep gasping for more air but — ” I paused. She looked at me.

“..But what, Carey?” Alex said very kindly and inquisitively; hoping that maybe, just maybe, a silver-lining would come about this revelation.

“But I keep getting pushed back into the cold water” I spoke up this time, raising my brown eyes to meet her blue ones. She was stunned.

“And the further down I’m pushed, the more I struggle. And the worse I feel” I concluded.

I looked out of the window and at the tall trees in the foreground. They were so dull and lifeless. I felt like I had something in common with them these days.

“It often feels like the walls are closing in on me” I continued relentlessly.

“I am struggling to exist. I can’t breathe, Alex, I can’t breathe.”

She grabbed my hand while the deafening moment of silence permeated throughout the quiet café in which we were sitting.

***

This piece predates the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philand0 Castile, who were murdered by police right after the Fourth of July — America’s national celebration of independence.

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Carey is a senior at the University of Oklahoma studying entrepreneurship with a minor in african american studies and social justice. She is a founder, writer, and photographer. She studied abroad in Kingston, Lucea, and Woodside Jamaica. Check out her personal site here.

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