beach, blowfish, Bolivia, commitment, Dodgers, fish, flash fiction, Luke Silver, short stories, writing
by Luke Silver
I met my soul mate on the sand at a beach party. He was good looking and shy. So I puffed my cheeks and became a blowfish, and when my lungs started screaming I sank to my knees and finally allowed myself to breathe. Then I flopped around on the sand — the way a blowfish would — and he watched me and smiled. He had an innocent and genuine smile.
Our paths intertwined at the Starbucks on Robertson three weeks later. He spotted me from the street and tapped on the glass and puffed his cheeks out wide. We sat down and shared lattes. I found out his name and why he wore a backpack.
We went on a handful of dates. He called me Aphrodite and ran his index finger down my navel. He opened up about his past, his scars, and his insecurities. He told me that he had a fear of commitment. That he was afraid he’d poison everything. He made me promise to be delicate with his insides.
The first time we had sex our interlocked bodies swelled, and grew together, and he asked if he could stay inside. He said he wanted my babies, and it terrified me — because a part of me liked the idea. But when my period came, like clockwork, like taxes, we were both a little relieved.
Once, on the way back from a Dodgers game, we debated driving south to Mexico and leaving our lives behind. I offered to paint and make jewelry. He told me that he wasn’t ready to take a plunge into such deep waters. Soon … When I finish school, he said.
For a while we were happy, but eventually other girls began to attract his attention. I told him I hated being the jealous girlfriend. He grew resentful and told me to stop acting like one. His words stung like toxic needles.
When I suggested we take space, he sobbed and shuddered and begged to start over. It was hard to see him so deflated and I wanted to believe him and … So I tried.
The following spring his academic fieldwork pulled him to Bolivia and he stopped by my house to share the news. He spoke of opportunity and professional expansion. He spread his arms in excitement. He told me we’d make it work and hugged me tight — but all I saw was the blowfish flopping on the sand, distended and bulging and gasping for oxygen.
I met my soul mate on the sand at a beach party. He died in my heart two years later, on a plane for Bolivia. I carried his bones with me for a while, but in time I cast them out with the tide.
Luke Silver lives in a shoebox in New York City. He alternates between bouts of clarity and paralyzing uncertainty. Then he tries to transcribe his feelings into words. Some of his work can be found on his Twitter page @LUKEABRASSI.
Intriguing choice of fish, considering the lines “That he was afraid he’d poison everything. He made me promise to be delicate with his insides.”