I gasp for breath in this rough air, so unlike the salted sea. I sit, gasping, tied to the earth, this wooden chair, where nothing stinks of brine, nothing rushes up to push me out yon window. When the sea is vexed no creature withstands it; we all fly when she decrees; and in that way understand the world, mark ourselves in its vastness. Little things drifting, sheltered when she is calm, endangered when she is tempestuous. But here I sit, gasping, untouched by the earth’s turning no wise knowing its mood. Alone, gasping.

The administratrix makes her rounds upon this floor and I seethe at her. The bubbles bubble to my lips and I twitch, twitch, crying now for I cannot feel my legs. This harsh light, these long feet, are all I feel. My claws clamp down but they are not claws. Pink and fragile fingers sprout from pink and hairy wrists. No chitinous shell protects me; I am covered in wretched flesh, thinnest muscle.

The administratrix tips up my head and peels back my rubbery lips to empty her filth inside me. Plastic beads, what they call medicine, taking me by the throat. What good is a throat, what good is a shoulder, a knee? She has robbed me of my spines. She has taken my sharpness, dulled me, fished me from my sea.

And then I see in her black eye the hungry dullness of the seagull and I know her again. I try to raise my claws to defend myself, bubbling bubbles, jerking, muscles in my ribs kicking amputated limbs.

She pats my head and moves on. No, she will not devour me yet. I am precisely where she wants me. I almost believe I have a throat and that I scream after her, scream like the seagulls. The sea has forsaken me and for an instant I am on a beach, head broken and bleeding, a crab crawling cautiously by my shattered face, and I feel my senses slipping into the vastness, something in me irreversibly jumbled.

But it does reverse, and I am gasping for breath in the rough air, so unlike the salted sea. I sit, gasping, tied to the earth, this wooden chair, and clench my claws.

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