For when the current rushes past us, and we grip tighter to slippery rock, the rock we swam so hard to and took a moment's rest, reflecting on the blue basin of sky, the gold-lit clouds, the sun. For when the current suddenly swells and pulls at our hands, that moment when we must decide whether to (instinctively) hold tighter or let go, for the current may drown us, but it may also wash us to shore. The current is stronger than us, so unrelenting, and we are not really sure there is a choice in anything: grasping, drowning, washing onto shore. It is a cruel truth that we build fictions around to make it meaningful, the fictions of our lives. The stories that we tell in order to believe we have a choice, that we're not a fledgling in the gutter, run over by a car before it even gets a chance to fly.
In our stories, we let go, we wash up on the shore. And when we drown, no one is any the wiser.
Jen Michalski is author of the novel The Tide King, winner of the 2012 Big Moose Prize. She is the author of two collections of fiction, From Here and Close Encounters, and a collection of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now. In 2013 she was named one of "50 Women to Watch" by The Baltimore Sun and won a "Best of Baltimore" for Best Writer from Baltimore Magazine. She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly jmww and host of The Starts Here! Reading Series and the biannual Lit Show. She lives in Baltimore, MD