Prepositions by Fran Parrotta

Imagine this. You are wandering without maps in the dark forest as twilight creeps in. You are sinking in the snow of a Siberian wasteland. You are drowning in an underwater cave. Around you, nobody.

Only if you squint do you start to see you are in none of these places. 

Actually, you’re in your kitchen. Someone asks you to give a quick rinse to that bowl. You duck it under warm water, meticulously scrubbing away the vestiges of marbleised pancake batter.

You breathe pastry mist as paracetamol for your frantically beating heart.

Only you are not in your kitchen either.

You are locked inside your ribcage, tied wrists and tied ankles. Every breath is a stretch of rope. The torturer is not a torturer and is only doing what’s best for you (or at least kept repeating so). So you try to grab a slipping reality for a crumpled bit of relief. 

You wish to crawl in the dark forest musk. You wish to dive into Siberian snow. You wish to plunge headfirst into the darkness of that cave. In the cave, there’s still the chance a dim glow would point to an exit. 

You wish to be anywhere as long as it’s out of the frantic arena of your ribcage. There is no exit. 

One sec, though.

Someone asks you to please grab the pan before the pastry burns. Your answer: “I’m on it”. And there you are. You are in your kitchen. You have just saved a pancake from certain death. You feel a ridiculous amount of pride for completing such a small task.

Only it isn’t a small task. Only it is a compass, a warm coat, and an oxygen tank. Only it is the sharpest knife to untie your wrists. 

(Your torturer does not look mad, just disappointed.)

You turn to your friend or parent or lover and marvel at the beauty of prepositions in the English language. So much meaning condensed into such small words. You’re on it. You’re in it. You’re out of there. You’re safe.

Biography: Fran Parrotta is a London-based student involved in their university writers’ groups by organising workshops and participating in spoken word competitions. She loves writing about mental health, metamorphosis and maths.